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parks essay - Robert Dutchen ENGL 1111.109 Professor...

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Robert Dutchen ENGL 1111.109 Professor Catherine Burroughs October 24, 2010 Confiding in The America Play Suzan-Lori Parks’ fascination with language and her belief that “words are spells…” (Parks 11) are reflected in her writings, in both her style and diction. Utilizing rhetorical structure, she is able to build words upon each other to establish something more than what they mean at face value. Parks is also well aware of etymology, and thus is able to rest entire ideas on the shoulders of a single word because it carries such a rich history of many definitions. By considering each meaning, the reader can then shape different ideas about the story she is trying to convey. The America Play is no exception, with one example of this technique seen through the use of the word “confidence.” The Oxford English Dictionary reveals a negative connation for the word, stating “assurance on insufficient grounds.” Lucy and The Digger’s relationship stems from this, as they seem to be on completely different levels, preventing communication. This is reinforced with the irony of Lucy’s profession of “hearing the past” through secrets confided in her, despite The Digger’s life remaining a mystery to her - an extension of an underlying hatred for The Digger. Structurally the word “confidence,” and all variations of it, appears a total of nine times throughout the play. Four of these utterances are by Brazil, four by Lucy, and once by The Digger. Lucy of course holds the position of a Confidence, hence her use of the word. Brazil’s use comes as a result of the connection with his mother. Lucy and Brazil represent one half of a disjointed family. The Digger is the other half, and fails to use the word because he has little to no association with his wife. Almost all occurrences of the word appear near words “thuh,”
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“uh,” or “huh,” i.e. “Confidence. Huh. Thuh things she told me I will never tell” (Parks 176).
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