Literary Devices in 'Eleven' by Sandra Cisneros
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Literary Devices in 'Eleven' by Sandra Cisneros

Rachel is characterized through literary devices in Sandra Cisneros' "Eleven"

Literary Devices in 'Eleven' by Sandra Cisneros

In "Eleven" by Sandra Cisneros, the various literary devices employed assist in characterizing Rachel as an anxious young child.

The diction at the beginning of the story (using the pronoun "they") conveys Rachel's belief that the world is against her. The generality of "they" expresses Rachel's presumed intelligence, and her explanation of the concept is, quite frankly, cute. She later indicates, "when you're eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one." The repetition of the word "and" demonstrates Rachel's youth, as it is in staggered phrases like such that most children communicate.

In addition, the similes that Cisneros writes typify Rachel as youthful and inexperienced by the concepts they include; she writes, "It's an ugly sweater with red plastic buttons and a collar and sleeves all stretched out like you could use it for a jump rope." A jump rope is typically a child's' toy-- adults are hardly ever seen jump roping… Another simile that is utilized is "my whole head hurts like when you drink milk too fast." Adults may describe headaches as a pounding in their head or as pressure. Rachel's explanation, relating the pain to drinking milk too quickly, evokes her juvenility.

Rachel's reaction to the central conflict (the sweater being wrongfully given to her) reveals her to be a sensitive girl. She grows exceedingly emotional at the fact that the sweater is accused of belonging to her, and she starts to cry. She is fragile and hurt by her classmate, Sylvia Saldiver's, words. Sylvia says, "'I think it belongs to Rachel.'" Afterwards, Rachel stumbles on her words, displaying her fragility and anxiety in the current situation.

Finally, the aphorism that is referenced throughout the work (the fact that when one is eleven they are also all the ages that precede it) exemplifies Rachel's creativity. When her mom is "sad and needs to cry" Rachel suggests that she may be "feeling three". It is an interesting approach; Rachel's ideas are unique and uncharacteristic of a typical young girl. Rachel is, through this thought of hers, wise. She is able to console her mother with her approach, providing a presumed explanation for her sadness. The situation is ironic, as a mother is usually consoling her daughter, but Rachel gives her mom advice in this instance, conveying the intelligence that she believes she has discovered.

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