Parallelism Part 1

Classic Short Stories

First, I want to say that I am not an English major.  I want to explore Parallelism because I enjoy sentences with that structure.   What exactly is parallelism?  “It is a similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases or clauses.  This basis principle of grammar and rhetoric demands that equivalent things be set forth in coordinate grammatical structures, for example:  nouns with nouns, infinitives with infinitives, and adverb clauses with adverb clauses.”  That’s a book definition, however, I will attempt to keep this subject simple.

I  found a treasure chest on my bookshelf.   It’s a collection of the The World’s 100 Best Short Stories” of 1923 and includes writing from Tolstoy, Joseph Conrad, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emile Zola and so many others.  Joseph Conrad in his story Youth, a tale of the sea, is the man of the hour when it comes to parallelism.  Here’s some examples:

“The sea was white like a sheet of foam, like a caldron of boiling milk.”  (double similes)
“It flared fierce, with noises like the whirr of wings, with rumbles as of thunder.”  (prepositional phrases with similes)
It blew fresh, it blew continously.”  (same pronoun/verb repeat)
Boats gone, decks swept clean, cabin gutted, men without a stitch but what they stood in, stores spoiled, ship strained.” (list of nouns/verbs – past tense)
“…and we became a fixture, a feature, an institution of the place.” (triple nouns each with an article (a, an)
“There was a touch of romance in it, something that made me love the old thing–something that appealed to my youth.”  (repeat word adds power to the sentence)
“The mysterious East faced me, perfumed like a flower, silent like death, dark like a grave.” (descriptive: adjective/simile ?)
Hope these examples are helpful.  I’m a Joseph Conrad fan but ,this month I will share examples from other writers too.

About Wings of Wonder

Linda Ruddy is a creative and she works in a variety of materials including pencils, paints, paper, porcelain and fabric. Her current projects involve hand-sewn bookbinding, children's book illustrating, and writing. In 2010, two of her paintings were published in the Saddleback College literary magazine, The Wall. In the past, she has received recognition for painting and doll making. Linda lives in California with her husband and family pet. Her new blog can be found Please visit often to see how the site develops. Following the muse, Linda Ruddy
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4 Responses to Parallelism Part 1

  1. Carson McCullers also has a knack for this type of sentence structure – she’s a little more sneaky about it, though 🙂

    • Thanks for the referral…I’ll check her out. If I am understanding correctly, parallelism can be subdivided into other structures such asanaphora, epistrope, epanalepsis etc. BUT, I want this to be simple!

  2. Marilyn says:

    Great post! Ronn is a big Conrad fan. Thanks! M

  3. Pingback: New Year: Foundation 3 | wings of wonder

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