by Cynthia Voigt
Analysis: Writing Style
Simple, With Occasional Bursts of Poetry
Voigt keeps it simple. She tells us what the characters are doing and thinking in straightforward sentences, like when Dicey describes the saleslady at the mall: "She wore makeup on her eyes, lips, and skin" (4.82). Badabing, badaboom. Then there’s the description of the dress Gram buys for Dicey: "The dress had a white knitted collar and matching cuffs; it had a brown belt that went with it" (4.229). Well, that about says it all, right?
But here’s the thing: when a writer writes this simply, the poetic moments stand out all the more. So when Dicey looks out the bus window at her surroundings, the writing is breathtaking: "Dicey looked out at the tall marsh grasses, blowing in the wind. If the wind blew, the grasses had to bend with it. She wondered how they felt about that" (4.281). Voigt uses the image of the grass to remind us that Dicey, too, is learning how to bend in response to the changes in her life. And the fact that Dicey wonders how the grasses felt is particularly striking, since we know grasses don’t feel.
Dicey has very strong feelings about learning to give, and that’s what Voigt’s telling us by showing us her thoughts. It’s a much more beautiful way of expressing that than coming right out and saying, "Dicey has very strong feelings about learning to give." It’s a perfect example of showing readers how Dicey feels instead of straight-up telling them.