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Peace Like A River by Leif Enger - Essay Example

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Peace Like A River by Leif Enger

A man, Reuben Land, through flashbacks remembers the events of his birth, the challenges, and his family, and narrates the story. He is the protagonist in the novel who instills faith and hope to the readers through his life story. This shifts to present day, 1962, when the man has grown up and lives as a good man. Narration of these events in his life helps the readers to appreciate the maturation that occurred in his life (Robertson, 2013). This eventually helps in molding him into the grown up good man that he is presently. The novel illustrates how Reuben’s family goes through an extra length to ensure one of them, Davy, comes back to the light. Enger uses the first person point of view in his novel. This is because Reuben tells the narrative from his point of view of the events that occurred in his life. This starts with a flashback of his birth, how God revived him so that he could witness the miracles performed through his father. Through his narration, we learn about his brother Davy, and his choices in life that led him to prison. Through Reuben, the readers find out the deal that his father made with God so that the former may die instead of Reuben. Readers are able to discern the occurrences in Reuben’s life through narration from both the young and adult Reuben. Symbolism and use of metaphors are also some of the literary elements employed by Enger in producing his work. Metaphors refer to the use of direct comparisons between ideas and characters. Examples of metaphors in Enger’s Peace like a river include the scene where Jeremiah’s actions are compared to that of God. Jeremiah blows air and life into son, who is motionless and clay-like, just as God blew air into Adam whom He made from clay. Metaphor is also used when Mrs. DeCuellas’ hair is described as black and woolly. Symbolism is evidenced in the character of Swede, Reuben’s sister (Enger, 2001). The novel starts as she works on her poem, and her character develops with it. This portrays the growth of the Land’s family. Another symbolism is Reuben’s asthmatic condition. It symbolizes the challenges and burdens of life that must be met with strength and faith for one to succeed, just as Reuben did. His daily struggle with breathing and his continued effort in keeping alive denotes the persistence very much needed for success in day-to-day activities. Peace like a river also portrays the repetitive use of themes throughout the book. This is called motif. The first motif in this novel is dreams. Enger displays the use of dreams through Reuben when in his terrible dream; he is crossing a shallow river. He also dreams about the skin bag, after which he wakes up to find Waltzer looking at him (Enger, 2001). Enger has used miracles in his novel a number of times. When Jeremiah commands Reuben, in the name of the living God to breathe, a miracle occurs. Another miracle is observed when Jeremiah paces at the edge of the water without falling. Other miracles occur in the novel including the never emptying bowl of soup, Reuben’s survival after the gunshot wound, and the healing of Holgren’s face among others. The theme of war is also used repetitively in the novel. The first instance is where Davy fights with and kills the two bullies. This paints the picture of war. Another instance where war theme is portrayed is in heaven, when Reuben and ...Show more


Institution Date Literary Analysis of Peace like a River by Leif Enger Leif Enger is a remarkable writer who is known to have paid attention to tiny details from his childhood through his exquisite novels. Through the patterns of his story lines, it is seen that Enger has a literary skill that leaves his readers with impressions…
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Peace Like A River by Leif Enger essay example
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