One technique Heaney uses is diction, which aids in plot development. In the first stanza he uses words that draw out the stanza and make it seem to last a long time. In the first line the use of the word all drags out the line. The sense of time is apparent in this first stanza. The second line, Counting bells knelling classes to a close, uses words that describe him listening and counting the bells that signal when class is out. This use of description emphasizes or supports the preceding line; I sat all morning in the college sick bay. Finally the reader is given a time, At two o clock our neighbors drove me home. The fact that the neighbors drove him home makes the reader question why that is the case. Up to this point the reader is not aware that a death in the family is the reason the boy is coming home. It could be that the boy himself is sick. In the second stanza the boy is home and sees his father crying. The reader now knows that someone died, but who is still a mystery. The use of dashes at the end of the first two lines of the second stanza aids in lengthening the stanza similarly to the first stanza but in a more somber way. The pause after his father is crying gives the reader a taste of what is happening. Then the dash after funerals in his stride, gives a pause to really bring about a somber tone. The last line of the third stanza, And Big Jim Evans saying it was...
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...box. The plot is almost fully revealed but there is still the final line, A four foot box, a foot for every year. All the mysteries are revealed with this last line. The shocking last line when the reader finds out that the boy s four-year-old brother was killed. The reader also finds out in the next to last line that a car hit him. The structure Heaney uses in this poem is what makes the poem intriguing. If he stated in the first stanza that the boy s little brother had died and he was leaving school to go see him the poem would be just another poem about death. Heaney slowly reveals the situation through his gradual plot development. The tone and the plot development lead to the shocking final line, a four foot box, a foot for every year. It is not until the final line that the reader knows that the deceased is the narrator s four-year-old brother.
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