In Ann Petry's novel, The Street, the author employs a panoply of rhetorical strategies, literary devices to capture not only the zeitgeist of the eponymous setting, but so to convey Lutie Johnson's relationship to the urban metropolis. Whether it be the personification of wind interacting and influencing the city streets, The use of imagery to authentically capture the spirit of the urban locales and denizens, or a diverse array of figurative language throughout, Ann Petry, paints, characterizes not only visually the urban cityscape but so to the protagonist Lutie Johnson's relationship to the metropolitan setting.
"There was a cold November wind blowing through 116th street. It rattled the tops of garbage cans, sucked window shades out through the top of the opened windows and set them back against the windows." The opening paragraph immediately illustrates Petry's utilization of personification. Wind rattling tops of garbage cans, gusts so strong as to "suck" out window shades, indeed, wind throughout the entirety of the passage excerpt plays as an entity of sorts, very much a character guiding the reader through the setting whilst characterizing the urban alleyways and streets. "It found every scrap of paper along the street, theater throwaways, announcements of dances and lodge meetings, the heavy waxed paper that loaves of bread had been wrapped in, the thinner waxed paper that had enclosed sandwiches, old envelopes, newspapers." Wind in the quotation furthers Ann Petry's purpose of painting imagery thru personification. In the given quotation wind acts as a sort of rail guided expressway for us to tour the streets as the personified zephyrs "find every scrap of paper" we learn of the city's evident vivacity with "theater throwaways, announcement of dances". "It found all the dirt, dust and grime on the sidewalk and lifted it up so that the dirt got up into their noses..." We learn thru the seeming mischievous actions of the wind that the streets are not the most lavish, meticulously clean of settings, nor it's respective people. When the wind "lifts Lutie Johnson's hair" we soon learn of our protagonists disdain for the cold, windy setting as the gales make her "shiver" and "even blew her eyelashes away so that her eyes were bathed in a brush of coldness". Through this lack of acclimation to the cold, thru the personified wind and the later evidence, Petry subtly connotes, reveals Lutie Johnson's relationship to the setting. As the wind gives us a guided tour essentially creating the setting for the reader, we can interpret that so to is Lutie seeing the streets for the first time subsequently we can infer that Lutie Johnson is not a native of this setting. Indeed Petry implements the personification of wind as it interacts with the streets as a means of observing the setting thru Johnson's eyes for the very first time, subsequently revealing her relationship to the city, the hostile and cold wind personifying her insecurities as she visits a new city with new people, Petry via personification revealing that Lutie Johnson is not a resident of the region.
"Three rooms, steam heat, parquet floors, respectable tenets. Reasonable." Thru this use of the rhetorical strategy, imagery, Petry ultimately details Lutie Johnson's relationship to the setting. In particilar thr specific selection of details "three rooms..."( etc.) is deliberate on part of Petry's imagery. As Johnson attempts to read against the blustering winds, the imagery of the preceding quotation describing an apartment complex supports the previous inference that Johnson is not a resident of the location as we can infer that she is looking for a place to stay. Subsequently Petry yet again utilizes rhetorical strategies of imagery/selection of detail not simply to relay the superficial facade of the streets to the reader but actually, subtly characterize, reveal Lutie Johnson's relationship as an outsider to the setting, the street.
Ann Petry's use of various rhetorical strategies in her novel The Street not only helps craft the setting but so to subtly characterizes and reveals the protagonist, Lutie Johnson's relationship to the locale. Thru personification of the wind it is revealed that Lutie Johnson is not acclimated, familiar with the area unable to cope with the cold and wind whilst the use of imagery and selection of detail illustrates her pursuit of a place to stay. Indeed, Ann Petry reveals Lutie Johnson's relationship to the urban streets: an outsider to the setting, all this through the instrumentation of rhetorical strategies.