The language of “Loose Change” by Andrea Levy is simple, straightforward and occasionally humorous. The choice of words reflects the setting of an art gallery with references to various portraits and artworks and the context of the short story—a conversation between two strangers who have just met.

Narrative passage and simple dialogue lines overlap. The narrator uses simple English when Laylor speaks to suggest her difficulty in expressing herself in English: “Then she said, ‘You look?’ She had an accent but I couldn't tell then where it was from; I thought maybe Spain.” 

Humour is employed when the narrator presents the physical traits of Laylor and her brother, descriptions which also use imagery (the readers can picture the characters in their mind):

She had wide black eyes and a round face with such a solid jaw line that she looked to have taken a gentle whack from Tom and Jerry's cartoon frying pan. She dug into the pocket of her jacket and pulled out a bulging handful of money. It was coppers mostly. Some of it tinkled on to the floor. 

The most relevant language devices employed by the author are similes, repetitions, and rhetorical questions. They help the author convey vivid images about the characters, to create a rapport with the reader, and to convey deeper meanings.


Quite a number of different similes can be found in the text. These comparisons are connected to the way the characters look and act, and to the setting.

For instance, the cold is “like acid”  on the narrator’s skin, a simile used to convey the way the cold stings. When the narrator describes Laylor using the simile “the lines of black hair, like magnetised iron filings”, she wants to convey the intensity of the hair colour and its curliness.

“Her gaze was as keen as a cat with string.”  describes the way Laylor is looking at the narrator and suggests confusion....

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in