The language of the short story “The Waste Land” by Alan Paton is unpretentious, easy to understand and many times symbolic. Since the story is written using the perspective of one of the characters, the language is also designed to reflect the man’s way of thinking, his background, and his feelings: “Death was near him, and for a moment he was filled with the injustice of life, that could end thus for one who had always been hard-working and law-abiding.” (p. 85, ll. 18-20)



In this short story, imagery is created through the depiction of the setting and the way the characters act. Descriptive words help us imagine them and the atmosphere, such as when the character looks around him and realises his only chance of escaping the thieves is the waste land:


Here are also some other specific figures of speech which help with imagery:

Similes and metaphors

Similes and metaphors create interesting associations which show the creativity of the author in depicting the events and the characters.



The short story is composed using plenty of symbols which enhance its themes and drama.

The waste land and buses

The waste land, which is also the title of the short story, becomes a symbol of being trapped in a violent, immoral world, which has no Christian values like mercy.


Other symbol discussed here are the lorry and the covenant.

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