Evelyn Waugh Writing Styles in A Handful of Dust

This Study Guide consists of approximately 46 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Handful of Dust.
This section contains 523 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)

Point of View

The story is written as a third person narrative. It is a story full of irony and sarcasm and the third voice gives the reader an opportunity to assume their own position. The reader is given authority to find humor and education by choice.

The chapters are made up of direct quotes and dialogue from the characters. There are few places where the story is told solely from the narrative point of view. The personality and mindset of each character is displayed firsthand. The author doesn't have to sum up for the reader that Beaver doesn't care for Brenda; the impression is summed up in their dialogue. "Until Wednesday, when I thought something had happened to you, I had no idea that I loved you."

"Well you've said it enough. You clod" (p. 171).

Setting

The novel is set in various areas of England and Brazil. Most of the characters are native to either area. Hetton and London are the main areas highlighted in England. Hetton is the estate where the two main characters, Tony and Brenda Last, reside. There are servants and staff who dwell on the property as well, and people who live in the village. There is a church and greenhouses, both of which Tony faithfully frequents on Sundays. Overall, the atmosphere is described with a classic beauty and peace until Brenda becomes unsettled and tries to change things.

London is described as almost the exact opposite of Hetton. It is busy and lively; there are social clubs and parties every weekend, lasting all through the night. Because of Brenda's change in lifestyle, London represents freedom and infidelity for the main characters.

Brazil is the last place that Tony sees alive. It represents the unknown. Tony and Messinger encounter new languages, new climate, unknown wildlife, and new people in Brazil. Both characters are completely out of their element, and in turn Brazil becomes the place of danger.

Language and Meaning

The tone of the writing in this piece is clearly sarcastic and mocking; however, the language is not. The author uses the direct quotes and descriptions of the characters to define the sense of absurdity that is prevalent throughout every chapter. For example, Brenda gets emotional in a conversation about the fact that the chiropractor will not have a session with Marjorie's dog, but coldly tells Tony not to brood every time he brings up their failing marriage.

Foreshadowing is a very key component, and the author hides it in plain view. The foreshadowing is saved for events that are extremely illogical. The reader decides that it couldn't possibly come true only to find the very event unfold among the characters. The hints placed through the chapters also give the reader the feeling of superior sensibility over these characters and makes them look even worse for not avoiding all of the calamity and misfortune that overtake their lives.

Structure

There are seven chapters in the novel, most of which are broken down into parts. The headings of the chapters give the reader an initial idea of where the story will turn. The complete novel is made up of three hundred and eight pages.

This section contains 523 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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