Literary Elements in Band of Angels The story Band of Angels shows many different literary elements throughout the dynamic novel. I will talk about a few of these examples of literary elements. Robert Penn Warren uses his skills as a writer to show us how a confused girl can figure out who she really is. The way he describes every detail of everything giving you a sense of being there.
" Oh, who am I?"ÃÂ Is the quote that begins the journey through Manty Starr's life (Warren 1). Manty grows up never knowing the answer to that question, never knowing really who she is. As, she grows older and her father dies she is sold into slavery. Discovering that she is part white and part black makes answering that question even harder in her head. She was raised like she was a little white girl, and through the middle of the book she says, " Pore little nigger, he just wanted his coppers."ÃÂ
She never believes that she is also a slave and black as she shows here, " Who is he to question which way I choose to go? What is he but another nigger carrying my valise?"ÃÂ (Warren 127). She really knows who she is, but it's her pride that gets in the way. Even when she was young and living at Starrwood when she was out to play all the younger slaves would stand around waiting for her to play with them, because they saw her as a black child. "The sharp dwindling of my intercourse with the children from the quarters."ÃÂ (20). She never wants to believe that she truly is a black person. She was raised in a white lifestyle and now living in a life of black servitude. Even though Hamish Bond treats her like she was his own daughter she still hates her life. Which shows Warren's great ability to add the conflict of person vs. self and also person vs. fate.
Manty also has a "quality"ÃÂ of being very selfish. The star-crossed Manty can only think of her during every turn of the book. Even with a very giving person she still always thinks of herself. "Don't you ever touch me! After you've set your spies on me"ÃÂ¦ that fancy nigger of yours to following me!"ÃÂ (129). Hamish would give her anything; she would say she didn't want it and take it anyway. "I wish that I had been taken to any other house in the world. And not yours. Do you understand."ÃÂ (130). Manty proved that she always needed someone, that she was not independent, she was needy of other people. "No, I can't stand it. I'll go mad. I can't sit here, locked in this room and"ÃÂ" (99). Manty was not only selfish, but also very manipulative. Almost every time she could get whatever she wanted. The only reason that she could do that was because she was raised with getting whatever she wanted. She never knew what the word no was, or even the word work. Manty always thinks of herself and nobody else, which was the way she was raised. She never had to think of anyone else but herself.
Local color was used gratuitously throughout the novel, as well as some slang to add to the local color. He shows in great dictation the setting and the way life was in the pre-civil war era. Showing the language of the time, " He is the k'la"ÃÂ (107). Also, showing the language of the slaves of those days, " Marse A-ren, him"ÃÂ¦him, he ain't nuthin"ÃÂthem muck-amucks, so high and mighty"ÃÂain't nuthin"ÃÂpull off they pants and ain't nuthin but buckra"ÃÂ" (15). With every word of dialogue he brings in the air of the time and location. "Je viens doucement comme la rosÃÂÃÂ©e de l'aube"ÃÂ (122). "The night passed, and after a while the moon was down and the mockingbird didn't sing any more, but I was asleep well before that, and the season passed, the last japonicas were gone, the last azaleas, but the myrtle was on, the bougainvillea coming"ÃÂ¦the sun struck stunningly"ÃÂ, graphic detail throughout the novel shows the setting and the mood of things and the times. (97).
Warren shows that Manty is a needy star-crossed selfish little girl. She finally realizes that she has a purpose in life and it is not to just please herself. That was all she had been doing since she was very young, and finally discovered who she really was in the end. Not knowing her purpose in life might have made Manty more dependant on others to be there for her, also the loss of her mother and father could have aided in her need of others. She never believed that she was black because she was raised in a white world, she never had to think about it and was never told different. Manty finally overcome her selfishness and through a little maturity found out who she really was.
Bibliography Warren, Robert Penn. Band of Angels. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1983.
Sebranek, Kemper, et al. Writers Inc: Write for College. Wilmington, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.