A Stranger is Watching

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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The title of this book is A Stranger is Watching. It was written by Mary Higgins Clark. It was published by Pocket Books Printing in April 1991.

It takes place in two different places: New York, and Connecticut. The time period is recent, about the 1990's.

The major purpose of this book is to show the mind of a murderer. It shows how they think and how they perceive things.

One of the main characters is Sharon Martin. She is a journalist who does not believe in capital punishment. Her primary weakness is her desire to replace Neil's dead mother. Neil is her boyfriends' son. Sharon showed her true strength when Neil and she were captured. She was calm, comforting, and really helped Neil through the situation. The author realistically developed Sharon Martin. She was very believable, and the readers can relate to her.

The major conflict in this book is whether or not Ronald Thompson is guilty of killing Nina Peterson or not.

He has been accused of strangling her to death, and if he is not proved innocent in two days he will be executed in the electric chair. When Sharon and Neil are kidnapped, Steve Peterson finds where they are and finds the man who really killed his wife, and that is how the problem is resolved.

Throughout this book there were many stressful situations that brought out the best in the main characters. These examples lead me to believe that even quiet, reserved personalities (such as Sharon Martin) are able to handle conflict and dangerous scenarios even though they may doubt their own abilities. Many times people repeatedly surprise themselves at what they are actually able to accomplish.

The most prevalent literary device used by Mary Higgins Clark was hyperbole. Throughout the book she exaggerated terms to emphasize situations. This is most common when she described the kidnapping scenes. This technique made the descriptions more interesting, and really relayed to the reader how intense the situations were. Examples of this method include "… fingers had a life of their own", " … the shower was hot, needle-sharp", "… do-gooders who don't know their way out of a paper bag.", "… face was chalk white…", and " The heavy black stone that always seemed to be lying on Neil's chest moved a little." The other device that Ms. Clark used the most was alliteration. Her used of this technique emphasized her images better than using ordinary adjectives. Examples of this include "… face floated…", "…dropped dramatically…", "…big baby tears…", "…it was so cold, and so smelly…so squeezed." The other literary devices really were not used.

One of the most moving events in the story occurs when Sharon and Neil have just been kidnapped. Neil has severe asthma, and he begins having problems breathing. Sharon pleads with the kidnapper and begs him to get Neil's inhaler. She also pleads with the kidnapper to untie Neil, and she allows herself to be tied up so he Neil won't have to be. I found this so touching because Sharon so obliviously puts Neil's needs before hers. She takes on all the characteristics of a mother, even though she isn't.