Structure, language and style in ITKOTC


  • Series of episodes interspersed with past experiences
  • Hill creates a sense of the cumulative nature of Hooper’s persecution and Kingshaw’s fear by showing that neither place, nor person makes any real difference to the situation.
  • Few distractions in terms of descriptions of ordinary life
  • Though taking place within the summer holidays, much of the novel also consists of flashbacks to significant events – this device allows the author to select and emphasise particular events from the point of view of different narrators.
Characters’ thoughts
  • Kingshaw reflects most on the past – promoting our understanding and our sympathy for him.
  • Mr Hooper also reflects on the past – his thoughts help us understand Edmund to some extent
  • Mrs Kingshaw – is too shallow to reflect on the past, her concern is the future
  • Absence of Hooper’s thoughts and memories reflects his lack of conscience and maintains the inscrutability of his character


Hill’s decision about Structure is deliberate to reflect Charles’ point of view and through his memories convince us of his isolation and that suicide was his only means of escape.


Language and style

  • Hill’s style is characterised by its simplicity and focus – readers’ attention is directed to important events without detailed introduction
  • Short clear sentences
  • Vivid images
  • Plants and animals named
  • Expressive verbs – the rabbit ‘bumped’, Kingshaw ‘pranced.’
  • Similes – the tractor like a great beast / Fielding’s eyelashes like spider’ legs’ – child’s view
  • Comparison of ordinary events with horrible ones – the horror at the circus with the attack of the crow
  • Strong use of senses in description
  • Recurring images – moths, crow, jewellery
  • Realistic dialogue – short and aggressive, colloquial, occasional swearing, full of insults – thick, stupid
  • Fielding’s speech is less aggressive and guarded, reflecting his ease
  • The adults speak to each other very formally, are artificial and affected.


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