Composers make use of distinctive voices within their texts to evoke a reaction and create experiences in the audience to convey interesting views on society through a certain perspective, which may challenge the individual’s ideas and views. In Ray Lawler’s dramatic text Summer of the 17th doll, and Hannah Roberts’ short narrative Sky High, the use of distinctive voices express the variety of perspectives on the world. Distinctive voices are the attitudes of the characters of the text influenced by their values, cultures, and the society.
Distinctive voices allow composers to convey perspectives of different individuals and groups in a way that prompt audiences to consider alternate views. This experience of new perspectives allows audiences to understand how their own values and attitudes have been influenced by the world around them. Ray Lawler, in the dramatic text Summer of the 17th Doll, explores the concept of marriage as polarized, with two very distinct voices commenting on the ideals of marriage. Pearl’s character in this play is used as a critical voice, which expresses dogmatic views. “If you ask me, I’d say this Nancy had her head screwed on the right way”, Pearl has a strong unwavering opinion of marriage, which is that, marriage is an essential factor in order to be a respectable member of society. In contrast, Olive has a vehement perspective against marriage. “With a slight shudder… all the marriages I know, what I got is 5 months of heaven….That’s what the lay-off is…a time for livin”, the paralinguistic features of Olive as she ‘shudders’ elucidates her perspective on marriage. She is physically moved in an action of distaste, her idealism of the lay-off apparent. Through the use of romantic language and hyperbole the composer showcases Olive’s desire to have the lay-off continue the way it is, lacking any changes like marriage. Olive values her independence, she has consistently rejected marriage as boring and restrictive routine in society. Olive has disillusionment of the future of the lay-off, she believes she has something far better than marriage, she is not accepting of change. Ray Lawler through the use of rich language devices creates a unique perspective by the way in which the characters carry out their point of view of aspects of society.
Distinctive voices have the ability to bring challenging experiences to life, allowing the responder to develop sympathy for the speaker. Change is inevitable and must be embraced, in Summer of the 17th Doll, Ray Lawler elucidates how an inability to change over the years leads Nancy to leave, which acts as a catalyst of the destruction of the ideal lay-off seasons. Olive’s distinctive voice is the major source of unacceptance of change throughout this text, “Bubba? Don’t be silly. Only a baby”, Olive’s reference to Bubba as a child is significant in terms as it alludes to the lack of ability to see reality and accept the changes taking place over the years. The rhetorical question showcases a tone of disbelief, followed by the short sentence which creates a firm tone over the topic. Emma is a critical voice in dramatic text, who makes it clear and apparent of the reality of the idealistic views of the other characters. “You see this? Middle of the night, Olive sat here on the floor huggin’ this and howling” Emma’s critical voice creates a questioning tone. Olive is emotionally distraught of the dolls, she has come to the realization of the significance of the doll, as it symbolically represents the end of the illusion of the past 16 years. The foreshadowing of this event since the beginning of the play is coming to fruition. Through the use of language, distinctive voices are created to reveal the speaker’s purpose as they manipulate the responder to evoke an emotive response.
Distinctive voices are created through language and structure in texts which will compel the responder to understand more about the world around them. In contrast to the unacceptance of change in Summer the 17th doll, the short narrative Sky High, Hannah Roberts depicts the change of an individual’s perceptions over time. Roberts showcases the disillusions one makes of their childhood as a fantasy, through the distinctive voices of the persona and the change of a child’s perspective to an adults perspective. The title “Sky High” highlights the hyperbole of the extreme sense of change the persona feels as she was once a child witnessing the clothes line reach the sky and now as an adult seeing it contrarily, as she feels like that childhood fantasy was an exaggeration. The text explores the transition from the innocence and imagination of childhood to an adult with less freedom and more responsibility. The metaphor “a small pilot light was burning inside somewhere …unlikely that the washing line would still support me”, is a reference to the inner child, waiting to take a swing, but stopped by the responsibilities and age. “It was an aged, unwarped old washing line”, throughout the text the washing line metaphorically symbolizes the changes the persona feels. Hannah Roberts uses various language feature to indicate how interesting perceptions and important ideas of the society and the changes in society are explored through distinctive voices of the characters.
Ultimately, Summer the 17th Doll by Ray Lawler and Sky High by Hannah Roberts, through the use of rich language devices explore how different perspectives on society are conveyed through various distinctive voices.
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