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Literary Devices in Parties: A Hymn of Hate

Wordplay: Parker utilizes wordplay while describing the typical games and activities engaged in during a party. She often crafts sarcastic statements that portray her dislike of the activity. When describing the mundane activities, “you cut for partners / And draw the man who wrote the game,” signifying her partner believes he knows more about the rules of bridge than anyone else.

Inner and Outer Dialogues: With the use of italics, Parker represents the speaker’s inner thoughts. The non-italics are used to describe the events at the party while the use of italics reveal her true thoughts and opinions on the events. This creates humor and irony and develops the speaker’s character further.

Literary Devices Examples in Parties: A Hymn of Hate:

Parties: A Hymn of Hate

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"draw..."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

The speaker draws a card and is randomly assigned this partner: “the man who wrote the game.” This is a hyperbolic statement. She is not literally playing cards with the man who invented bridge, her partner is a stickler for the rules and seems to take everything about the game personally, as if he invented the game himself.

"hem you in..."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

The phrase “hem you in” is a clever example of both metaphor and metonymy. Metaphorically, to be hemmed in is to be trapped. Literally, a hem is a sewn-on border on a garment. One can thus imagine the hostess’s hemmed dress or shirt as she moves in on the speaker.

"draws diagrams with a fork..."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

The image of the man diagramming his new sun-parlour with a fork is both funny and well-observed. This is the type of detail which draws the reader into the world of the poem, weaving together action, character, imagery and setting in just a few words.

"I’ll say they do...."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

Parker creates a pair of subtly differentiated voices in the poem. In the non-italicized voice, the speaker reflects on her experiences at various parties. The voice is second-person, but only in a rhetorical sense, for the sake of telling the stories in a broadly applicable way. This second-person voice is subtle in its ironic humor. The italicized voice is in first-person. It is the speaker’s true voice, surfacing during occasional asides. This voice’s humor is darker and more direct. There is a sense, too, that the italicized voice represents the thoughts the speaker wishes to express in the midst of all the banal party proceedings.

"riot..."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

The noun “riot” here is used to describe the party as wild and entertaining. Of course, the speaker is obviously lying to the hostess—the party described is quite the opposite of the lively and uncontrolled activity of a riot. This false sentiment further emphasizes the speaker’s frustration at the inauthenticity, or falseness, of such activities, which prioritize what “should” be done and what “you have to” do over what is true and honest. The personal pronoun “You” here also directly addresses the reader, implicating them in the scene and further inviting us to join the speaker in her condemnation.

"wild flowers he knows...."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

The speaker lists three examples of party games to demonstrate the sheer boredom and tediousness of such activities. It is unlikely any reader would be thrilled at the prospect of counting seeds in a cucumber, threading a needle, or listing names of flowers. In this way, the speaker further emphasizes the unappealing nature of such parties using a sarcastic, judgmental tone.

"tennis clothes, with a wreath around the neck. ..."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

The speaker demonstrates the predictable attire of male guests to be that of Hawaiian dress. However, the speaker uses the phrase “native costume” ironically, as the following line demonstrates the guests as wearing tennis clothes and a wreath. This description is far from authentic native-Hawaiian dress; rather, it is a representation of the clothes readily available as costumes for the party guests. We may assume that the “wreath” mentioned here is supposed to reference a Hawaiian lei, a colorful floral garland typically worn around the neck. This description once more emphasizes the lack of original thought by the guests, who all wear similar costumes to every party of this nature. The identical costumes function almost as a uniform of their unoriginality, while reference to “last season” demonstrates their lack of fashion or sophistication.

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