LITERATURE: Jamestown – Language & Tone

Here I was, thinking that overall, Sharpe’s prose wasn’t anything to write home about when I came across some use of language that set imagery in mind that may emulate Cormac McCarthy’s often blunt and emotionless images when it comes to human nature.

I put Martin in the driver’s seat, sat next to him, and made him back the car up from the tree they’d run into.  While pressing my thumb into Martin’s newest wound I aimed the gun at Ratcliffe and told him to stand up, unload the corn, and bring it to the mess.

"I told you, I was just in a car crash and my head is killing me."  I shot at the dirt in front of his feet to make it spring up and hit him in the eyes. He got up and came toward the car with a sad look as if I’d said the kittens his cat had just given birth to weren’t cute.  (p. 174)

That’s rather amusingly cold; amusing since these guys are on the same team.  The backstabbing and physical wounding of each other is taken in stride.  (Here I reflect on 78 year-old Angel Torres and I shiver.)  Then Sharpe leads us into the simile of kittens and as we hold our breath, he surprises us with a rather mellow one.

And here’s a more creative description, given by John Smith on the naming of the settlement as Jamestown:

While I was gone they’d named this place Jamestown after our CEO.  That they dared make town of this wet and sucking thing that vied with my foot for my boot at every step bespoke the glorious and yearning bullshit of men’s souls.  (p. 176)

The tone is one of underlying dark humor, a sardonic and sarcastic attempt to create a place that the mind has been stretched to accept.

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