H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald



'sudden thump' - onomatopoeic word suggests something powerful.

'Like us,'- minor sentence suggests irony, such a powerful bird should feel afraid of the writer, who shows signs of nervousness herself.

'And another. Thump' - Series of short, minor sentences indicate tension and anticipation. Macdonald hears the bird before seeing it.

'barred and beating'- alliteration of the 'b' increases drama

'Two enormous eyes'- repetition of enormous again and short sentences emphasise the bird's appearance. Emphasise Macdonald's shock and amazement.

'She is a conjuring trick'- metaphor suggesting bird is too wonderful to be real- illusion.

'like gold falling through water' - this simile evokes a beautiful image.

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'it was born of care' - short sentencing indicates Macdonald's careful observation of man's attitude.

'and much, much bigger, and...'- repetition of 'and' reflects growing realisation of the difference in the 2 birds

'Do you think there's any chance...'- Direct speech comes out as blurted and nervous.

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'against the article 10s' - This legal language contrasts with nature

'Don't want you going home with the wrong bird'- statement turns out ironic.

'flecked with dust'- provides a visual image to slow motion. Builds anticipation.

'all happening at once'- The struggling bird makes it hard to see what is happening. Present tense is used here for immediacy.

'enormous, enormous'- shows surprise and indicates that she is speechless.

'she can see everything'- italics followed by list of details of what hawk can see suggests the sensory overload the hawk is experiencing. Illustrate the hawk's amazing eyesight.

'in one hand'- the man keeping the bird is skilled and competent with it.

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'keeping her head in the air'- long complex sentences reflect complex care of hawk.

'hackles raised...'- these are all giving a very vivid, visual description.

'madwoman in the attack'- play on words, 'madwoman in the attic' is a character in the novel Jane Eyre- this quote connects to the Victorian melodrama reference.

'This is my hawk'- italics here are used to represent Macdonald's inner voice

'but this isn't my hawk' - Macdonald's inner voice is changing view.

'yellow form folded, the money exchanged'- list shows how long Macdonald holds back from expressing her feelings.

'incoherent appeals' - Confused and disordered. Connects her to first bird- confused.

'total silence' - We are left in suspense at the end of the text.

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  • Extract begins with careful checking of detailed doccuments, turns out ironic as Macdonald feels she is buying the wrong bird.
  • Writer uses 2 short paragraphs, including a one word paragraph to create a turning point in the text. 'Oh'
  • Inner thoughts expressed through italics.
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  • Personal account
  • Amazed with first hawk, connection
  • Tries to imagine hawk's perspective
  • Macdonald sees hawks as individual personalities.
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  • Listing
  • Descriptive language
  • Metaphor
  • Simile
  • Tension and confusion by short sentences and single word paragraph.
  • Change of tense. Present tense = immediacy
  • Writer's inner voice
  • Imagery
  • Minor, short sentences
  • Long complex sentences
  • Repetition
  • Alliteration
  • Contrast
  • Comparative
  • Semantic field of instability
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