Study Guide

Heart of a Samurai Writing Style

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Writing Style

Clear; Imagistic


The clear writing style of this book means the sentences tend to be short, with simple structures (think: subject-verb-object). If the author uses a descriptive clause, trust us—it's not going to make your head go dizzy trying to keep up.

Here, for example, is how Preus describes Manjiro's feelings after he and Captain Whitfield have their first bonding moment:

When Manjiro left the room soon after, he tried to identify what he was feeling. He was no longer afraid. He was no longer angry. He was, perhaps, a little amazed. A little surprised. And maybe even a little bit happy.

There are a total of four complete sentences in that passage, and none of those sentences run longer than a line on a page. Preus even adds in two "sentences" that aren't even complete, but instead are just phrases. In other words, there aren't any extra words in this passage.

Manjiro may be feeling strange, confusing feelings, but Preus doesn't want you to feel confused. Nope—her writing is as clear as it gets. And this clarity to her writing adds nicely to the simplicity of Manjiro's character (more on this over in the "Characters" section).


By imagistic, we mean words that paint pictures, that make us think in images. Preus is nothing if not descriptive, but not in a super-wordy way—that might impede her clarity. Instead, she uses simple similes and metaphors to help us imagine what a scene looks like. Take this paragraph, for example, which is so typical of Preus's writing in this book:

But no sooner had he said this than the wind began to roar like a dragon. The sail filled with air and yanked the boat on its side until Denzo released the line. Freed, the sail whipped about, flapping like a wounded bird. (1.1.15)

See what we mean? There's a really strong wind because it "roar[s] like a dragon," so much so that the sail "flap[s] like a wounded bird." The image of a ship at sea is clear because the similes the author uses don't interfere with the scene; instead they only add to the scene.

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