In the opening of the short story Corkscrew, Dashiell Hammett uses vivid details to establish the setting

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Guided Literary Analysis: Corkscrew

In the opening of the short story “Corkscrew”, Dashiell Hammett uses vivid details to establish the setting which convey the narrators negative attitude towards relocating to Corkscrew. The narrator describes the people and the place with a sense of foreboding and is portrayed as a cautious and companionless person.

Hammett begins the story with the simile, “Boiling like a coffee pot”, which denotes the searing heat. He reinforces this idea with the words, “shimmering heat” which allow the reader to visualize something that shines and glints in one’s eyes, making them want to look away, and with the repetition of the word “hotter” in three consecutive lines which emphasizes that everything will “blow up” in “one explosive flash” as the blistering heat gets worse. The metaphors “automobiles cooked” and “horses bunched up their dejection” also contribute in making the dessert seeming like an “oven country” which resembles hell allowing the reader to imagine an eternal inferno that chars one to death.

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Furthermore, the narrators ill opinion of the place is communicated clearly when he depicts the sand to be “bitter white dust” which forces the reader to taste his resentment and dislike of the place. Consequently, even the road is shown to be hostile as it “dry”, “dusty” and “sharp-edged” with “cactus-spiked”, “sage-studded” plants that seem to act like the weapons of destruction in this threatening place where visitors are made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome and unaccepted.

When the narrator reaches his destination he notices dilapidated buildings that are personified to be “slump[ing]”, “leaning” and “squatting” to illustrate that ...

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