“Hints of Unrest….”

Hello Class!

I feel obliged to wish you a Happy Galentines Day (which is observed on February 13th) and is only the best day of the year. You should look it up. #ovariesbeforebrovaries

Last week we spoke about characterisation in class and we shall pick up where we left off tomorrow. This week, however, we will also chat about how to develop setting in your narrative essays. A good thing to think about is how the setting does not only need to be described in terms of being a place to put the action, but it can actually demonstrate the atmosphere you’re trying to create. For instance, if you’re trying to develop tension in your narrative essays, there are many ways to go about it without stating “It was tense”. Sometimes, developing your setting in a particular way can help do that work for you.

Have a look at the following extract. It’s from Bryony Rheam’s This September Sun (2009).

“December came. Hints of unrest and further economic instability breathed uneasily through parched, rainless days. I had never known such a dry end of year. Storm clouds gathered often, then dispersed. At night we tossed in sweat-drenched sheets and woke exhausted in the early morning heat. I slept with just a sheet to cover me and the windows open on the clear star-filled skies. The wind hardly moved and often, when I couldn’t sleep, I would go and sit outside and think, the night thick and warm around me. Talk of people emigrating hung above us like the sky that stretched white-blue and unrelenting, a never-ending migraine”

What can you say about how the setting produces a particular effect? Are vocabulary choices working to help it along? What is being indirectly said?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


Ms Roberts

24 thoughts on ““Hints of Unrest….”

  1. Jamie says:

    The passage shows a very insettling place and the people are almost ‘uncomfortable’ being in the area. The vocab choices work well, for example by saying “Hints of unrest and further economic instability breathed uneasily though parched, rainless days.” To me this gives a more vivid sense of how the atmosphere was and how it made the people feel ‘uneasy’. And “At night we tossed in sweat-drenched sheets and woke exhausted in the early moribund heat.” This also shows that the atmosphere that I quoted above, links up to how they entwine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. weareoxymorons says:

      Excellent Jamie! I enjoy how you’ve lifted these words that so effectively develop the discomfiture of this place! Don’t you think the use of ‘hint’ also makes it even more unsettling? That is, the word “hint” only contributes to the uncertainty?


  2. Leah says:

    Instead of saying that basically everyone was tense because of the bad economic situation and drought, it goes on to describe the atmosphere and the way people were feeling. He describes the weather conditions and thats how we know that there is a possible drought. It is obviously a very hot hard time in this paragraph. The diction creates an image of restlessness as he cannot sleep. It also gives the effect that the heat is worse than usually and making everyone feel tense.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Samu says:

    As the writer describes the weather conditions, you can almost see why the economy was tumbling down like one reason could how the farming industry could be going down.The final straw of their discomfort from the scorching heat, which was clearly described with the use of vocabulary, led them to the conclusion of migrating else where, indicating to us how badly they had suffered. However, the writer takes notice of the bad but seems put on staying as he described the talk of moving as a never ending migraine, causing him emotional pain rather than the actual physical.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Daphine says:

    In the above extract, Bryony Rheam, is indirectly saying that it was a very dry and hot December. Instead of just saying dry he shows the reader by saying they experienced rainless days and he describes how hot it was by using phrases such as “Sweat drenched sheets” and “I slept with just a sheet to cover me and the windows open on the star filled sky”. I also noticed that Bryon Rheam begins by describing the physical setting then moves on to the population. Bryon Rheam also makes use of senses when he says “The night thick and warm around me” There is also the use of personification when Bryon says “The wind hardly moved, and often when I couldn’t sleep. This is because he is referring to the wind as if it is a living being.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. weareoxymorons says:

      Very good, Daphine! Your observation about the indirect descriptions is particularly well expressed. (just note, Bryony Rheam is a woman. Always best not to assume the gender of a writer. If you’re not sure, just use “they”. For eg: Bryony Rheam makes use of senses when they say….)


  5. Carolyne says:

    By using “breathed uneasily” the writer personifies the unrest and economic instability. This most probably mirrors the people in this predicament. It shows that they are rather troubled as breathing uneasily is often associated to being troubled. The struggle to sleep describe by the writer especially by using the word “tossed” creates an atmosphere of unrest mentioned in the opening statement as the people were not at peace even when they slept. “Unrelenting” which describe the sky as it does not yield any rain shows that the unrest is not going to solve anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Courtney Ward says:

    The mention of warm nights, parached days and sweat soaked sheets emphasise the heat, this is a much more exciting than just saying that it’s hot and the reader can better picture the scene when it is phrased this way. The author mentions that they sleep with a sheet covering them despite the heat, this could be because it is comforting due to troubling times, which is shown by the “tossing” dduring the night.


  7. Brittney says:

    the passage shows that people are very unsettled in the area they are in. And the way the writer describes the weather almost gives you a feel as to why the and how the economy ( I think ) was going downhill

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ashleigh_hugo_22 says:

    the writer uses such language such as warm nights, parched days and sweat soaked sheets to emphasise that it is hot rather than using ordinary language this is an example of showing rather than speaking. The author is helping the reader picture the heat they are suffering in and uses imagery to emphasise this point. The writer also craetaes the feeling that the people in that area were very unhappy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Francesca says:

    The setting of the extract emphasizes the uneasiness and unhappiness that is felt by the author. It creates a link between the environment and the personal thoughts and emotions felt by the subject. The vocabulary or more precisely the diction used follows the theme created by the conditions of the area. By the use of harsh, somewhat final and violent words such as ‘parched’ convoys the desesperation felt by the people of the area suffering from possibly a drought. Other words such as “tossed” emphasizes the uneasiness felt by the subject even when attempting to find solace in sleep. What l feel the writer is conveying is the distress and unhappiness that is felt in difficult times. In this case this man is uneasy with the knowledge that the economy is crashing and the only way to survive may have to be leaving his home. This is something that seems to bother the entire commmunity and seems to be a final resort in case of desesperation.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. shannon herbst says:

    The description of the surroundings gives a sense of discomfort by using words such as “exhausted” and “sweat drenched sheets”. One would associate December with happiness and rain in this area however the lack of rain comes as a shock to the inhabitants. The author implies that even the nights are uncomfortably hot. There is a sense of irony as blue skies usually symbolizes joy however in this case it is described as unrelenting which contradicts the idea of a blue sky bringing happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

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