The Art of Fielding

The debut novel The Art of Fielding is the most popular work of American writer Chad Harbach. After reading the title of the novel, one may conclude that the story will focus on sport, especially baseball; however, these are only first misleading impressions. On the contrary, the novel has a classic theme, namely relations between people and the difficult nature of the characters. The author describes important things in an easy and gripping manner, revealing various personalities’ subtleties through the use of literary devices. Consequently, all readers can feel themselves as a part of the fictional wonderful world of the baseball team and small Westish College environment.

While reading the book, it is not difficult to understand that Harbach is a real literary artist, master of allusions, and great contemplator. It seems that it is not enough for the writer of the novel to use the first and superficial meaning of the word. In contrast, it is important for him to penetrate the essence of the image. Describing each item, character, or heroes’ action, Harbach uses his writing skills. For a more complete, accurate, colorful, and imaginative transmit of his thoughts, feelings, and evaluations, the author of the text utilizes different modes of words transmission and color. Throughout the novel, Harbach repeatedly refers to various literary devices, which set the tone and the background of the whole work.

The first interesting literary device called polysyndeton makes novel’s sentences more organized and rhythmic, which, in turn, adds power to other words and makes the reader overwhelmed. Among examples, one can outline “You stood and waited and tried to still your mind” (Harbach 202) and “For Schwartz this formed the paradox at the heart of baseball, or football, or any other sport” (Harbach 283).


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Another example contains polysyndeton and one more stylistic device called repetition (or anadiplosis): “But the world, the nonbaseball world, the world of love and sex and jobs and friends, was made of words” (Harbach 135). Repetition as the literary device is a manifestation of emotions and excited state expressed in the speech by various means, depending on the degree and nature of the emotion and feeling. Particularly, Harbach used lexical repetitions of various kinds to add expressivity to the text. For instance, there are cases of anaphoric repetition, which make a novel more poetic: “The life that worth living was the unfree life, the life Schwartz had taught him, the life in which you were chained to your one true wish…” (Harbach 225).

One more literary device used by numerous authors and Chad Harbach, in particular, is a metaphor. Writers use metaphors to create in reader’s imagination a certain, quite specific image of the object filled with concrete emotional content. Specialists in the study of literature also call the metaphor as a means of figurative speech creating. Each metaphor assists in creating a special atmosphere, depending on specific kind of emotions the author wants to evoke in the reader. Such examples as “He felt a touch of sadness…” (Harbach 104) or “…living in her head again…” (Harbach 305) make the language of narrative interesting, emotional, and unusual.

One more fascinating feature used by the author in The Art of Fielding is multiple points of view, which make the narration flow smoothly between various characters. At first glance, such structure may cause misunderstanding and confusion. However, Harbach makes the transition in such a professional way, that the reader will have no difficulty to differentiate whether the particular sentence is from Schwartz’s point of view or from Henry’s one.

The main topic of the novel smoothly blends into the main conflict. The best moments of The Art of Fielding are in the gaps throughout the novel. The main characters seriously but unreasonably attempt to deal with their conflict feelings and emotions; however, the writer does not hurry to help them. It seems that the main aim for Chad Harbach is to make the reader think about every feeling of each character. Human perception often distorts the essence of an event or an object. It seems that Chad Harbach knows about this fact and compels the reader to understand all the intricacies of the conflict feelings of the characters.

In my opinion, the story gives a significant number of great and instructive examples of human behaviors in certain situations of everyday life. The characters are really wonderful and interesting. The most impressive ones include Pella, the narcissistic girl, who has a habit of careful consideration of all things and actions; Henry, who cannot imagine his life without baseball and tries to hide his emotions and feelings; and distressful Mike, who attempts to control everything and everywhere, but sometimes tends to go too far. The book teaches to concentrate on the usual life feelings of young people and to rethink, agree, or disagree with the thoughts and actions of the main characters. The story is about the different kinds of relationships (family, lovers, and friends). It makes everyone understand what people are indebted to themselves and to the other people in their lives. The book is also about the destiny and unexpected direction of life. Here, Pella can serve a perfect example, as she dreamt about an excellent future and successful career. On the contrary, she quitted a school, married an older man, and found herself unhappy. Henry also thought that his school game was the last game in his life; nevertheless, finally he receives a college grant. Therefore, I can say that this book is not only entertaining one but also provokes people to think and to ponder about the crucial things of life.

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