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It was two summers before I would put my thin

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The following passage is taken from the story “Cherry Bomb” by Maxine Clair. Read the passage carefully. Analyze how Clair uses literary techniques such as allusion, colloquialisms, rhetorical fragments, and selection of detail to characterize the narrator in her fifth-grade summer world.

It was two summers before I would put my thin-

If you parted the heavy coats between the raggedy

penny bus token in the slot and ride the Fifth Street

35 mouton that once belonged to my father’s mother,

trolley all the way to the end of the line to junior high.

who, my father said, was his Heart when she died, and


Life was measured in summers then, and the

the putrid-colored jacket my father wore when he got


expression “I am in this world, but not of it” appealed

shipped out to the dot in the Pacific Ocean where, he

to me. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but it had just the

said, the women wore one piece of cloth and looked

right ring for a lofty statement I should adopt. That

40 as fine as wine in the summertime, you would find

Midwest summer broke records for straight over-one-

yourself right in the middle of our cave-dark closet.

hundred-degree days in July, and Mr. Calhoun still

Then, if you closed your eyes, held your hands up


came around with that-old-thing of an ice truck. Our

over your head, placed one foot in front of the other,

mother still bought a help-him-out block of ice to

walked until the tips of your fingers touched the

leave in the backyard for us to lick or sit on. It was

45 smooth cool of slanted plaster all the way down to

the summer that the Bible’s plague of locusts came.

where you had to slue your feet and walk squat-

Evening sighed its own relief in a locust hum that

legged, fell to your knees and felt around on the floor


swelled from the cattails next to the cemetery, from

—then you would hit the strong-smelling cigar box.

the bridal wreath shrubs and the pickle grass that my

My box of private things.

younger cousin, Bea, combed and braided on our side


From time to time my cousins, Bea and Eddy, stayed

of the alley.

with us, and on the Fourth of July the year before,

I kept a cherry bomb and a locked diary in the

Eddy had lit a cherry bomb in a Libby’s corn can and


closet under the back steps where Bea, restrained by

tried to lob it over the house into the alley. Before it

my suggestion that the Hairy Man hid there, wouldn’t

reached the top of the porch it went off, and a piece

try to find them. It was an established, Daddy-said-so

55 of tin shot God-is-whipping-you straight for Eddy’s

fact that at night the Hairy Man went anywhere he

eye. By the time school started that year, Eddy had a

wanted to go but in the daytime he stayed inside the

keloid* like a piece of twine down the side of his face


yellow house on Sherman Avenue near our school.

and a black patch he had to wear until he got his glass

During the school year if we were so late that the

eye that stared in a fixed angle at the sky. Nick,

patrol boys had gone inside, we would see him in his

60 Eddy’s friend, began calling Eddy “Black-Eyed Pea.”

fenced-in yard, wooly-headed and bearded, hollering

After Eddy’s accident, he gave me a cherry bomb.

things we dared not repeat until a nurse kind of

His last. I kept it in my cigar box as a sort of memento


woman in a bandanna came out and took him back

of good times. Even if I had wanted to explode it, my

inside the house with the windows painted light blue,

mother had threatened to do worse to us if we so

which my mother said was a peaceful color for

65 much as looked at fireworks again. Except for

somebody shell-shocked.

Christmas presents, it was the first thing anybody

ever gave me.

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