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Stylistic Uses in “Rope” by Katherine Anne Porter Essay

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Updated: Nov 25th, 2021


‘Stylistic’ is one of the most widely accepted literary terms in linguistics and it is the study of differences of language whose properties locate that language in various contexts. Here, a writer or speaker tries to establish ideologies / principles for specific choices. Based on social, cultural and political differences, individuals prefer a distinctive usage of language. Katherine Anne Porter exposes female sexuality and social position as her major themes in short stories. Through the short story Rope, the author tries to explore the challenging situations of women that help them to face all kinds of hardships and adversities in their lives. After detailed analysis of the story, I understood the usage of stylistic devices in Catherine Ann Porter’s short story Rope.


Tone, syntax, narrative pace, figurative language, humor, imagery, irony, satire, diction, symbolic usage of language, socialization and the description of scenes are very common stylistic features in literature. Literary devices, such as characterization, use of words, series of events and theme reveal a ragged relationship of an unhappy married couple. The given passage represents a unique example of Catherine Ann Porter’s effective use of stylistic devices. The author portrays the character ‘he’ in this passage, only as a passive and irresponsible figure and who follows the principles of patriarchal society. As a writer who is conscious about female problems and adversities, Catherine portrays the female character as a victim or silent receiver. If a person is eager to know about stylistic devices in literature, I think it is better to notice character formation and the usage of symbolism in Catherine Ann Porter’s short story. Dialogue is considered as one of the most significant and essential features of characterization. In this given passage, usage of both spoken and internal language is helpful for a reader to understand characters’ heart and thoughts and their inspirations.

I invite the attention of the listener to another usage of literary device by the author Catherine Ann Porter. Here, I introduce the character of ‘she’ (Wife), a woman who is basically unhappy and disappointed in her life. Through her actions and dialogues, she expresses a harsh and convincing antipathy about life and retains her sufferings which are practiced as fuel, once oppositions with her husband arise. If wife’s response and reaction are analyzed, one can understand that she is disappointed and she expresses her anger and rage through her dialogues and actions. The author writes ;“He was getting ready to say that they could surely manage somehow when she turned on him and said, if he told her they could manage somehow she would certainly slap his face.” (Rope by Katherine Anne Porter line 22-24). Dialogue is another stylistic feature in Catherine Porter’s short story ‘Rope’.

The image of ‘twine’/’rope’ in this story gives great example of symbolism. Catherine Ann Porter wants to convey her conquering theme, that is, the divinity of married life and its significance. The author uses ‘twine’ as a symbol of growing duration of married people and the everlasting ring of belief and love. The author successfully practices stylistic devices through characterization. The author wants to convey the idea that all relationships are very important to know what is expected from other person and there should be a perception of shared respect and an attempt to appreciate the other person’s opinion or feelings. For conveying this message, Catherine Ann Porter chooses the image of ‘rope’ as a unique symbol.

After analysis, I want to convey the idea that the writer’s intention is to present passivism or escaping tendency of males in masculine responsibilities. Catherine Ann Porter is highly conscious in characterization and selection of themes. James T.F Tanner remarks;” The absolute unpredictability of love, especially woman’s love, is one of its themes.” (Tanner 118).

Author uses stylistic devices like characterization and symbolism to explore particular social, cultural and gender backgrounds. The character of ‘he’ (husband) in this passage shows an effective imagery. The character of husband in the story ‘Rope’ believes that homemaker is not a responsible and serious job; because of this he could not understand the feelings and aspirations of his wife. The image of these kinds of irresponsible husbands is common in society.

After analyzing Catherine Porter’s story ‘Rope’, I can see the specific usage of tone and irony. The whole story narrates in the tone of disappointment and disagreement. Husband’s vein effort to please his wife and the wife’s disagreement shows the melancholic tone of the story. In the ending part of the passage, the author gives something about the couple’s sexual interaction. Here I would like to draw the attention of my listener to notice the wife’s reaction towards her husband. Instead of warm welcome, she shows her disagreement and frustration through her gestures. The image of the rope itself reveals the state of something sad and gloomy. Here it is crystal clear that the author needs to convey the image of a wife who is frustrated with her husband. If stylistic is the study of style practiced in literary language and the consequences the author or narrator hopes to communicate to the listener or reader, one can see that Catherine Ann Porter has succeeded in using stylistic devices in her story ‘Rope’.

Finally, the image of husband came in from the road with a rope and a basket, and the wife specially notices the ‘rope’ on the top. Here, the author makes a question about wife’s eyes. The wife sees only the rope and author uses the term ‘her having eyes’ which shows irony. The question makes serious irony and sarcasm in the minds of the readers. Writer portrays her protagonist as a suffering woman who observes the world as more sad and melancholic. The image of rope, egg, cool place, and breaking of the eggs are different images in this short story which constitute the tone of disappointment and disagreements.


To conclude, in literary analysis certain stylistic features are used to evaluate the nature and the quality of writings of a particular writer. Analyzing Catherine Ann Porter’s short story ‘Rope’, I think the concept of ‘style’ is much wider than just the ‘better style’ of various literary works. The given passage is an excellent example of stylistic usages. Through the characterization, tone, dialogue, symbolism and imagery, author implements some stylistic devices in her story and successfully conveys the picture of existing social system.

Works Cited

Tanner, James. T. F. The Texas Legacy of Katherine Anne Porter. University of North Texas Press, 1991.

Rope by Katherine Anne Porter. (Provided by the customer).

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Stylistic Uses in “Rope” by Katherine Anne Porter'. 25 November.

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