The following passage is the opening of the novel Kiss of the Fur Queen (1998) by the Cree novelist and playwright Tomson Highway. Read the passage carefully. Then write a well-organized essay in which you analyze how Highway uses literary devices such as imagery, asyndeton, ellipsis, parallel structure, and rhetorical fragments to dramatize Okimasis’ experience.
“Mush!” the hunter cried into the wind. Through the rising vapour of a northern Manitoba February, so crisp, so dry, the snow creaked underfoot, the caribou hunter Abraham Okimasis drove his sled and team of eight grey huskies through the orange-rose-tinted dusk. His left hand gripping handlebar of sled, his right snapping moose-hide whip above his head, Abraham Okimasis was urging his huskies forward.
“Mush!” he cried, “mush.” The desperation in his voice, like a man about to sob, surprised him.
Abraham Okimasis could see, or thought he could, the finish line a mile away. He could also see other mushers, three, maybe four. Which meant forty more behind him. But what did these forty matter? What mattered was that, so close to the end, he was not leading. What mattered was that he was not going to win the race. And he was so tired, his dogs beyond tired, so tired they would have collapsed if he was to relent.
“Mush!” the sole word left that could feed them, dogs and master both, with the will to travel on.
Three days. One hundred and fifty miles of low-treed tundra, ice-covered lakes, all blanketed with at least
two feet of snow—fifty miles per day—a hundred and fifty miles of freezing temperatures and freezing winds. And the finish line mere yards ahead. The shafts of vapour rising from the dogs’ panting mouths, the curls of mist emerging from their undulating backs, made them look like insubstantial wisps of air.
“Mush!” the hunter cried to his lead dog. “Tiger-Tiger, mush.”
He had sworn to his dear wife, Mariesis Okimasis, on pain of separation and divorce, unthinkable for a Roman Catholic in the year of our Lord 1951, that he would win the world championship just for her: the silver cup, that holy chalice was to be his twenty-first-anniversary gift to her. With these thoughts racing through his fevered mind, Abraham Okimasis edged past musher number 54—Jean-Baptiste Ducharme of Cranberry Portage. Still not good enough.
Half a mile to the finish line—he could see the banner now, a silvery white with bold black lettering, though he couldn’t make out the words.
Mushers numbers 32 and 17, so close, so far: Douglas Ballantyne of Moosoogoot, Saskatchewan, at least 25 twenty yards ahead, and Jackson Butler of Flin Flon, Manitoba, another ten ahead of that.
Timed-Writing Full Essay Model 1
When one comes close to the finish of a long, fierce struggle, emotions run high. If they are so close they can almost taste it, feel the sensation though it hasn’t even come yet, it makes for the perfect opportunity to utilize literary devices to convey that feeling. In the opening passage of Kiss of the Fur Queen, author Tomson Highway uses imagery, rhetorical fragment, and repetition to give the audience that same feeling of desperation and determination to dramatize the main character Okimasis’ experience.
Setting the scene, Highway paints a desolate, cold wasteland using imagery by describing, “the rising vapour of a northern Manitoba February, so crisp, so dry, the snow creaked underfoot, the caribou hunter Abraham Okimasis drove his sled and team of eight grey huskies through the orange rose-tinted dusk.” He depicts a scene of the extreme freezing snow blanketing the ground and dry air all around. This shows the conditions Okimasis is under the course of this race and his determination to go through it, driving his huskies through a cold dawn. The audience is put on the edge with this scary description, making them feel the tension of Okimasis.
As Okimasis powered on, a rhetorical fragment shows the desperation he feels. “Three days.” The two simple words hold power and Highway knew this was all he had to say. Three days out in the freezing tundra conveys to the audience why he wants to win so badly, so close to the end now, and heightens the feeling of drama and suspense.
Pushing his dogs to the end, repetition is used to describe the sheer exhaustion felt, explaining, Okimasis was “so tired, his dogs beyond tired, so tired that they would have collapsed if he was to relent.” The repetition of “tired” and “so tired” clearly shows the audience the fatigue and stress felt by Okimasis as he races to the finish line, but also his determination to keep pushing on regardless. Another repetition throughout the entire passage is the word “mush”. The single word is what is driving Okimasis and the dogs, what keeps them from collapsing. The importance of this single repeated word heightens the drama of the experience for the audience as they watch Okimasis cry it out over and over again.
As one comes to a close of a long journey, the emotions of desperation and determination to make it to the finish are powerful. Tomson Highway effectively captures these emotions using the literary devices of imagery, rhetorical fragment, and repetition to heighten the tension, suspense, and drama of Okimasis’ experience. Because when one is so close, so close that they know they can make it, the question still remains whether they do or don’t.
Timed-Writing Full Essay Model 2
In the story Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway, the dog musher Okimasis is in the last stretch of race, desperately trying to get in first place. To dramatize this desperate atmosphere, Highway uses a mixture of parallelism, imagery, and rhetorical fragments, emphasizing how intense this moment is. This is where Okimasis tests his will power to see if it’s strong enough to win him the race.
Throughout the passage, Highway consistently puts “mush” at the beginning of each paragraph, referring to the dog sled command to basically “push on”. This parallel structure serves as a constant reminder of how fast-paced and tense this moment is. The race was only a few yards from ending and Okimasis had to pass up two competitors. Each “mush” is almost like Okimasis saying he wouldn’t give up and would persevere, adding to the tense feeling of wanting to know his fate.
Highway then addresses the race course as “one hundred and fifty miles of low treed tundra, ice covered lakes, all blanketed with at least two feet of snow.” This imagery spawns a vivid picture of how difficult the terrain Okimasis had to trek for the last three days was. Knowing that makes the reader realize that if he loses then all that will have been for nothing. The reader feels almost as anxious as Okimasis must feel at the moment, waiting to see if his sled tears through the finish line first.
“Still not good enough.” Okimasis explained after passing one musher, leaving two to go. This almost pessimistic rhetorical fragment gives the reader a sense of how important this situation is, and if he loses, he’ll lose his wife. The fact that right after passing one musher, which would usually call for silent celebration, Highway writes that it’s not enough shows that nothing’s good enough until Okimasis is at the front and has won the race.
This entire moment is very dramatic, a man preparing to cross the finish line of a race that might save him and his wife’s marriage. Highway uses a combination of parallel structure, imagery, and rhetorical fragment to focus on the drama. These devices not only give the reader a sense of how anxious Okimasis feels, but also allows the reader to be put into his shoes, providing a tense, dramatic atmosphere that enhances the reading experience much more.
Introductions (Thesis position is highlighted in yellow) In the novel Kiss of the Fur Queen, the author Tomson Highway uses literary devices such as imagery and rhetorical fragments to dramatize Okimasis’ experience. These literary techniques effectively convince the reader that this experience was one of the most important in Okimasis’ life. Throughout the excerpt, Highway demonstrates that when used properly, these devices can contribute much to the meaning of a story.
Though many people associate dog sledding as a beautiful and relaxing endeavor, Abraham Okimasis in the novel Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway most definitely did not. With a wife threatening an unthinkable divorce if he did not win, all Abraham felt was sheer pressure and determination. To help convey this determination and dramatize the situation, Tomson Highway expertly uses asyndeton, rhetorical fragments, and imagery to dramatize Okimasis’ difficult experience through Manitoba. Conclusions Through imagery, colloquialism, parallel structure, and rhetorical fragments, Highway enhances his novel Kiss of the Fur Queen. These devices create an atmosphere of interest and suspense, making the reader feel like they are in the shoes of Okamasis. The desperation, drive, and frustration of Okamasis is clearly expressed through the rhetorical devices used by Highway that the readers can understand and enjoy until the end.
Throughout the excerpt, Tomson Highway reveals the power that words can hold. He shows with simple literary devices that it is possible to impact the audience on a whole different level. His use of asyndeton, imagery, rhetorical fragment, and juxtaposition successfully reaffirms this thought and creates a story that stages the audience as its actors, making them feel as if they themselves were Okimasis.
The opening passage taken from Kiss of the Fur Queen creates a bitter-sweet story, using juxtaposition and imagery to emphasize how Okimasis was so close to his destination but there were obstacles keeping him from it. The devices show Okimasis’ love for his wife, through his desperation for the trophy. But most of all they show his perseverance and determination throughout the race. The bitter-sweet race.
Highway uses imagery, parallel structure, and rhetorical fragments in his novel Kiss of the Fur Queen to better help readers understand Abraham Okimasis, the importance of the cup, and the dangerous and beautiful world he has been racing through. Without these devices the story of the lone musher struggling for victory would likely fall flat. Through these devices, Highway succeeds in writing an intriguing introduction, drawing the reader in to what is likely to be an exciting novel.
Highway has added imagery, rhetorical fragments, and parallel structure to add drama and personal tone to the story of Okimasis. Throughout the passage, dramatized statements add a sense of relatability and emotion. The writing gives the readers the sense that they are really involved and a part of the Kiss of the Fur Queen.
AED In the ingenious phrases “so close, so far”, Highway uses juxtaposition to create an interesting effect by saying that Okimasis is close to the finish line, yet he’s still far from first place. By using the two opposites, close and far, readers pity Okimasis since he is so close to winning, yet simply cannot.
Another way Highway created the desperation was through a parallel structure with repeated usage of “mush” followed by a paragraph explaining the challenges Abraham felt as he pushed on. It causes the reader to ask, “Why doesn’t he quit?” But, with each cry of “mush” a sense of hope is restored, showing Abraham’s willpower against the odds.
Through the desperation of the race with every growing struggle, Okimasis cries, “Mush!” into the wind. As Highway’s description of the event continues with each cry, Okimasis’ desperation and determination grows, and his difficulties also grow. Every repetition of the cry “Mush!” reveals another level of Okimasis’ desperation. Highway’s use of parallel structure aids the reader in seeing Okimasis’ progression in the race by showing equality of the ideas and making the reader unconsciously compare each progression.
By almost the end of the race, Abraham “was tired, his dogs beyond tired, so tired they would have collapsed if he was to relent.” Highway used ellipsis to purposefully phrase the sentence this way. Without conjunctions, the sentence is choppy, which helps the reader to catch on every word . If it were to flow more naturally, the reader would have been more capable of overlooking some of the details. It also drags on one idea to help us understand how tired Abraham was and how he was dragging on also. The structure makes the word “tired” pop out and gives it emphasis.
RSW With the finish line mere yards ahead, “the shafts of vapour rising form the dogs’ panting mouths, the curls of mist emerging from their undulating backs, made them look like insubstantial wisps of air.” This imagery helps you picture the swiftly running dogs, exhausted but continuing on. By describing the vapor rising from their mouths and how they looked like insubstantial wisps of air, highway creates a dreamy atmosphere, but at the same time creates the feeling of vulnerability because the dogs are “insubstantial.” The “curls of mist emerging from their undulating backs” helps you see their hard work and see that the frigid environment makes their situation doubly difficult.
More Insightful Body Paragraphs As Okimasis gets closer to the finish line, he realizes that “mushers numbers 32 and 17, [are] so close, so far.” Highway has used juxtaposition to make the possible sound impossible. This allows the reader to realize how close Okimasis is to the finish, how close to his goal, his mission, his destiny. And yet his competitors so far from his reach. His chances of winning, far too little. The reader suddenly feels the fear of losing, knowing that no matter what, Okamasis chances of winning are low. The drama is felt most here.
Okimasis’ mindset is made apparent through parallel structure expertly used throughout the story. In particular, readers receive an image of what mattered to him. “What mattered was that so close to the end, he was not leading. What mattered was that he was not going to win the race.” Abraham Okamasis is in a heated competition and victory is his only option. His personality and feeling are emphasized in the parallel structure because it repeats what matters to him and informs the reader of what matters the most.
As Okimasis approaches the finish line, Highway describes the winner’s cup as “the silver cup, that holy chalice” instead of just calling it a “cup” to show that it wasn’t just a cup to Okimasis. It was three painful days of determination, it was victory, and it was a valuable promise to his wife. This imagery adds a whole extra value to the race, as the reader begins to see what was really important to Okimasis and why he did what he did.
Highway also uses excellent imagery to emphasize that the dogs pulling the sled were getting more and more exhausted. He describes that “the shafts of vapor rising from the dogs’ panting mouths, curls of mist emerging from their undulating backs, made them look like insubstantial wisps of air.” This description is detailed enough for the readers to imagine how difficult it was for the dogs in the journey and also that Okimasis may be worried after seeing the poor conditions of the dogs. He relies on them to complete his race, and if the dogs are running out of breath too soon, he may lose the race.
The race isn’t only about winning. It is also about Okimasis’ wife, for he swore to her that he would win, “the silver cup, that holy chalice” as an anniversary gift. Here, Highway uses an allusion of the silver cup, which is the prize for winning, to the holy chalice of the Roman Catholic Church. The allusion of this cup helps for the reader to understand why all of this is just so important, and further explains Abraham Okimasis’ urgency and need to win. If he loses the race, he might as well lose his marriage.