A Summer Life by Gary Soto

A Summer Life by Gary Soto

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Back in 1990, a man named Gary Soto decided to write an autobiography about himself, titled A Summer Life. One of the more interesting portions of the book was when Mr. Soto described a summer day back when he was six years old. On that day, young Gary found out what it felt like to be a true sinner, as he stole an apple pie from the local bakery. Some readers found this as one of the more interesting parts, not because of the plot, but because of the literary devices used, such as detail, imagery, and pacing. The three aforementioned literary devices are almost a backbone to the story, because without those three, the story would be shortened and fairly bland. The following three paragraphs will each describe a literary devices used by Mr. Soto to enhance the quality of his story.
During this portion of his autobiography, Mr. Soto wanted to carry the feelings and events of an important day in his life across to the reader. One of the ways that Mr. Soto accomplished that feat is through his usage of extremely vivid detail. One of the more vivid sentences in this story was “I laid more pieces on my tongue, wet finger-dripping pieces, until I was finished and felt like crying because it was about the best thing I had ever tasted.” That string of thirty words carries over a great load of detail to the reader. Phrases like “finger-dripping” and “felt like crying” gives the reader an idea of just how good the pie tasted. It lets the reader know that it must have been sweet and moist, rich and golden. One could also argue that the sentence used as an example or detail is also a prime example of imagery.
The next literary device to be discussed is imagery. As previously stated, many sentences could serve as excellent example of imagery, however the sentence that most portrays an idea is on line 40; “The slop was sweet and gold-colored in the afternoon sun.” The line tells you how messy the pie was (slop), and then to tell you exactly what the pie mess looked like, it tells what color it was, and if the environment affected its color (gold-colored…afternoon sun). The idea behind Mr. Soto’s usage of imagery may seem simple, but it makes sure that the point is carried across to the reader.

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The point of the story is easily carried across by other literary devices, but the device that truly conveys a feeling or idea to the reader is pacing. As one reads the story, the reader should clearly be able to tell when the young Gary was scared, anxious, excited, etc. The absolute perfect example of imagery is conveyed not in a sentence, but several paragraphs: the final two paragraphs. A reader can tell that he got scared because he had the look of guilt, which could hint at people that something is wrong. In the final paragraph, one can tell that Gary became truly frightened and nervous when he wasn’t sure what the noises really were.
Many authors have written some of the best stories or essays of all time, but none of their works have succeeded without exceptional usage of literary devices. Gary Soto is one of those authors. In his autobiography, A Summer Life, Mr. Soto describes a time when he learned what sin really is. Gary used detail, imagery, and pacing to tell what his surroundings looked like, what he thought, and how he felt. A reader can always tell when an author is actually reliving or living the experience of the main character, and obviously, Mr. Soto will never forget this “spiritual” moment in his life.

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