Corkscrew Book Written by Dashiell Hammett

Topics: DesertHamlet

The essay sample on Corkscrew Dashiell Hammett dwells on its problems, providing a shortened but comprehensive overview of basic facts and arguments related to it. To read the essay, scroll down.

There are many different aspects of a novel, which capture a reader’s imagination and make it a good read. However undeniably the most important part of the novel has to be the opening, where the author must use certain methods and techniques to capture the readers intrigue and ultimately draw them into the story.

Almost immediately after starting to read this opening I feel that Dashiell Hammet has succeeded in creating this sense of intrigue by opening her story with very striking yet extremely powerful metaphor, ‘Boling like a coffeepot’.

The way that she has used such an extreme state, ‘Boiling’, to describe how someone is feeling has an instantaneous impact upon the reader and the position of it also creates an instant sense of urgency. We know almost instantly also, that this story is written in the first person and it is this, which helps to get the reader involved with the story.

When a story is written in first person the reader is instantly drawn closer to the character as they experience the story through the characters own interpretations and personal thoughts.

In this particular story the reader is draw even closer to the character through empathy. There are a few short bland statements which makes the character sound as if he speaks in a distant, bleak tone, there are also several references to isolation and loneliness, ‘I was the only passenger’, ‘.

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. without conversation’, ‘No person was in sight’. Further more one gets the impression that he is out of control of this situation and unable to stop what is going to happen.

Dashiell Hammet

I feel the phrase ‘… carried me.. ‘ conveys this and also ‘.. we pushed up a long slope, topped a sharp ridge and slid down into corkscrew’. The whole image of descending down a corkscrew I feel portrays his feelings of powerlessness about the situation he is going into. Another phrase that I feel evokes empathy is when the character speaks of death so calmly and sounding so unmoved and in different, Not that it mattered – if it got any hotter, we would all blow up anyway, car, desert, chauffeur and I would all bang out of existence in one explosive flash. I didn’t care if we did’. That last statement would move the reader as they will be so shocked that the character can be so unconcerned of death and ultimately it will make them more intrigued to what is making him feel like this. Lastly the syntax in some of Hammet’s opening sentences has been manipulated to make the sentence stand out more and have more of an impact upon the reader.

Hammet has rearranged word order to make sentences sound more urgent and dramatic, thus having an impact upon the reader, ‘In the street four dusty automobiles cooked. ‘ The way that she has placed the destination of the event before the event makes it more of a visual image, thus making it more interesting to read. The exceptionally convincing, unpleasant desert setting is where Dashiell Hammet opens this story.

Primarily it is the authenticity of her portrayal of this harsh desert land that captures and intrigues the reader, however as you continue to read through this introduction one realises that this setting not only works on one level where it has been used to capture the readers attention and illustrate mental images of the surrounding setting, but also on a deeper note where it almost represents more about the nature of the people it beholds. There are several metaphors that directly link characters feelings to the setting, the main one being the heat. The higher it got, the larger and hotter it got’. The sun could be seen a metaphor for his destination, and the heat could be portraying his feelings of increasing angst and discomfort as he is nearing the destination. A second representation of how the setting reflects its people is the use of the dust. In the desert dust is something you would come to expect to be everywhere but some of the references in this story lead me to believe that the dust is just a metaphor for the corruption of the town.

When the sheriff reaches the town he asks a fairly in hospitable man for ‘ a room and a lot of water’ however the mans reply is ‘but water wont do you no good. You won’ no sooner drink and wash than you’ll be thirsty and dirty all over again. ‘ If the dust is the representation of corruption it would only make sense that the water the sheriff is asking for is to ‘clean up’ the corruption. The mans reply on certifies what a desalted and corrupt place this is as he basically tells the sheriff there is no point in saying around and trying to clean up the town as it will only get covered in ‘dust’ to soon.

Dashiell Hammet describes this desert scene in a very successfully vivid and stimulating manner, which helps the reader to feel more attached to the story. She not only gives countless visual descriptions, she also uses alliteration so that the reader gets a deeper impression of the setting. ‘Soft sifting sand’, the sound of the s’s in this phrase really emphasis the feeling of the sand sifting away, leaving a deeper impression on the reader.

Also the phrase ‘cactus-spiked sage-studded’ has almost been made physically difficult to read which creates a sense of unfamiliarity and almost discomfort within the reader, which reflects his feelings of this climate and environment. Generally the whole atmosphere created by the setting can be seen as a representation of the lifestyle in Corkscrew. The environment Dashiell Hammet vividly portrays is a harsh, desolate, unforgiving desert land. These descriptions could easily be applied to the characters that live in this area.

The characters seem to reflect the environment and the environment reflects the people. The ‘crooked’, ‘shabby’, ‘tumble-down’ shacks reflect the ‘shallow’ skinned ‘miscellaneous assortment’ of people that live there. All of the characters are introduced with depressing and completely negative language, apart from a couple that ‘didn’t belong to Arizona’. They way Hammet has described this couple with their ‘sharp prettiness’ and ‘too perfect in their clean-cut regularity’ almost adds some variation to the bland set of people who live here.

It is obvious that they will have some part to play in his story but what part this is will intrigue the reader and entice them to read on. Throughout the beginning of this novel the atmosphere and mood changes several time as the situations unravel themselves. At the beginning the negative description of the harsh unsown desert land creates an uncomfortable, unfamiliar mood. Hammet has used foreign words in this part to reinforce the feeling of unfamiliarity and the feelings the idea of descending down into corkscrew evokes are of helplessness.

However as the story progresses and when the sheriff reaches corkscrew and the rest of the characters are introduced, there is a confrontation between the sheriff and a local and the atmosphere becomes increasingly tense, ‘I hid my annoyance under my grin’. It is now for the first time that the reader becomes aware of who and what the character the readers have been following is doing and the sceptical mood of before has now been replaced with intrigue and a sense of ‘what’s going to happen next! . The final change in atmosphere is in the final paragraph when we see the sheriff’s hesitant mood turn swiftly to determination, as he stows away his ‘ new . 32 automatic’ and prepares to show his authority. Here the reader almost mentally prepares, as the sheriff is doing, for what will happen next. These are many of the aspects of the opening that makes it a successful introduction to the novel, in terms of creating intrigue and drawing the reader into the novel.

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Corkscrew Book Written by Dashiell Hammett. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

Corkscrew Book Written by Dashiell Hammett
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