Literary Device Dictionary
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
An allusion is a brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary, or political significance; It does not describe in detail the person or thing to which it refers. Spader was explaining to the Captain that Earth was corrupt and that if Earth people got to Mars, they would ruin it. He said that "the only reason [men on Earth] didn't set up hot-dog stands in the midst of the Egyptian temple of Karnak is because it was out of the way and served no large commercial purpose" (Bradbury 54). What Spader said was an allusion because he was referring to a place in Egypt and the reader is expected to know what it was, and what significance it had, because the author didn't elaborate any further on what he meant.
An analogy is a point-to-point comparison of two different things that are alike in some aspect. When the African Americans living in the South decided to take the rocket to Mars, the author uses an analogy to compare the crowd of people to a river. "The warm waters descended and engulfed the town... Like a kind of summer molasses... It surged slow, slow, and it was men and women and horses and barking dogs, and it was little boys and girls" (Bradbury 90). This is directly comparing the people to a moving liquid, or river.
Dramatic Irony occurs when the audience/reader knows something the character(s) do(es) not; because of this understanding, the words of the character(s) take on a different meaning. The boys playing in the Martian cities do not understand what has happened there. They believe that they are playing with/around "autumn leaves and white xylophones" (Bradbury 89). The reader is able to understand that the boys are surrounded by the remains of burnt martians; bones and ashes. This realization makes the theme of this chapter more morbid than playful.
Foreshadowing is when the author gives clues about what will happen later in the story. When Captain Wilder encountered Hathaway and his family on Mars, he realized soon after Hathaway's death that his wife and kids were robots. Wilder doesn't know what to do with them when he is preparing to leave. When asked what to do by one of his crew members, Wilder handed him a gun and said, "If you can do anything about this, you're a better man than I" (Bradbury 165). This shows that Wilder thinks they have to kill them, and hints at what will happen to Hathaway's family.
Imagery is descriptive language that the author uses to draw on the five senses of the reader so that they can better imagine the setting(s) of the book. Ray Bradbury uses imagery to describe the Martian book that Mr. Ylla is reading; he says "and from the book, as his fingers stroked, a voice sang, a soft ancient voice..." (Bradbury 2). This is imagery because it allows the reader to imagine the voice that is emitting from the book.
Personification is giving inanimate objects, beliefs, or ideas human qualities. When Tomas is driving alone, he describes the idea of time by saying "what did Time smell like? Like dust and clocks and people. And if you wondered what Time sounded like it sounded like water running in a dark cave and voices crying and dirt dropping down upon hollow box lids, and rain" (Bradbury 80). This makes time seem like a person because it can be smelled and heard.
A paradox is a statement that contradicts itself and still seems to somehow be true. When Dr. Driscoll went to Mars, he worked on growing plants and grass and trees so that humans could survive. One day, after working on the plants, he fell asleep, and "before he woke again, five thousand new trees had climber up into the yellow sun" (Bradbury 77). This situation is a paradox because trees, especially of that quantity, could never grow overnight.
A tragedy is the suffering of a (the) character(s) as they go through a series of unfortunate events that often ends in death. When Spender goes off on his own, he comes back changed after he discovers the ancient Martian towns and history. He doesn't want humans to ruin the planet, so he finds his camp and tries to kill off his team. "Spender's face hardened. 'I thought you would understand'... Spender fired one last time. Cheroke stopped moving" (Bradbury 60). The reader is able to see Spender's own conflict of wanting to preserve Mars but also wanting Cheroke to help him. When Cheroke rejects Spender, it is clear that he did not want to have to kill him.