Literary Qualities

The most outstanding literary characteristic of this work is the language. Sandburg’s prose often flows like his free verse poetry. A figurative device that Sandburg frequently uses in both poetry and prose is personification-that is, the endowment of an inanimate object with human qualities. For example, in chapter 10, Sandburg hypothesizes: “He [Abe] might have asked the moon, ‘What do you see?’ And the moon might have told him many things.” The extensive description of all that the moon might have witnessed in the past few years helps the reader to see and feel the current of life in those times.

Similes and metaphors appear in virtually every chapter. Chapter 16 includes particularly powerful examples, for instance: “The footsteps of death, silent as the moving sundial of a tall sycamore, were a presence. Time and death, the partners who operate leaving no more track than mist, had to be reckoned in the theme of life. A day is a shooting star.” This style, tending toward long but clear sentences, provides an interesting model for aspiring writers.

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