Study Guide

Pure Language and Communication

By Julianna Baggott

Language and Communication

Chapter 2

"Your mother has always been problematic." (2.73)

Ah, the importance of tenses. Notice how Ellery says, "has been," instead of "had been" or "was." Because of the tense he uses, Partridge (and the reader) can infer that Partridge's mother is still alive.

Chapter 3

She doesn't want to think of the word memento because it reminds her that she might soon be gone, but there it is in her mind. Memento. (3.53)

If you're trying not to think about something, that usually means that you're thinking about that very thing. Pressia doesn't want to think of herself as a memento, but because she doesn't want to think about the word, it sticks in her head.

Chapter 10

The pink fibers break loose and stream past him into the fans and he thinks of the word confetti. (10.54)

Why all the emphasis on random words? Well, for a lot of the characters in Pure, a lot of words and the meanings behind those words are lost in their memories. Partridge can't describe what it would be like to get chopped up to pieces, but when the word confetti comes to mind, we as the reader think: "Ugh. That's a pretty violent way to die."

Chapter 23

"I've spent years teaching myself Japanese […] This means "my" […] And this is a word that I would know anywhere. It means "phoenix." (23.89)

If Bradwell didn't know how to speak Japanese, then do you think Partridge would have been able to solve his mother's riddle?

Chapter 29

"Ah," Ingership says with a wink. '"Little secret. Gotta keep something up my sleeve!" Pressia doesn't understand why he'd keep anything up his sleeves. (29.53)

Ever heard an idiomatic phrase and thought, "What on earth do you mean?" but then just go along with it? That's what it would be like if you were a wretch talking to someone inside the Dome, or to a high-ranking OSR member.

It's been so long since she was mannered, she's not sure if she'd said the right thing or not. (29.20)

Language in the farmhouse scene is so important. What if Pressia said or did something wrong? Body language, as well as spoken language, can be a major factor in an interaction. And for Pressia, making one wrong move could result in death.

"I've got connections," Ingership says. "Oysters on the half shell. They're an acquired taste." Acquired taste? Pressia isn't sure what the term means, but she loves it. (29.28)

Again, the language boundary that exists between Pressia's world and the world of the Dome further alienates the two regions.

Chapter 30

And then Pressia remembers the word. "Chandelier," she says. A beautiful word. How could she have forgotten it? When she sees her grandfather again, she'll whisper the word in his ear. Chandelier. Chandelier. Chandelier. (30.108)

Why does Pressia remember this word, and why do we care? And why do people keep thinking of random words? Our best guess is that Pressia and other characters gain some kind of satisfaction for remembering certain words because it reminds them of their past.

Chapter 31

Pressia looks out the window, lifts her doll-head fist ever so slightly, and rocks it back and forth, like the shaking of a head. Is the doll speaking for her? (31.22).

Secret language is always present throughout the book. Here, Pressia uses her doll to speak for her, and that's pretty similar to how the Swan Wife Story speaks for Aribelle. Silent communication is one of the only ways in which the wretches are able to hold power and secrecy.

Chapter 55

And this time, Helmud doesn't repeat his brother's final words. His silence means yes (55.36).

The power of not saying anything: the silent treatment. Not only is Helmud's silent treatment hilarious, but it says a lot about him in general. This kid only speaks when he wants to.