What Are the Literary Techniques in “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros?

Among the literary techniques Sandra Cisneros uses in her short story “Eleven” are first-person point of view, tone, similes, repetition, stream of consciousness and dialogue. Cisneros uses these techniques to help the reader better identify with the main character and, thus, understand the story more clearly.

The story is told from a first-person point of view by the main character, Rachel, whose 11th birthday it is. She tells the reader her feelings all the way through the narrative, so the reader knows the story from her perspective. Cisneros employs stream of consciousness in the narrative as well, as Rachel diverts from telling the story at times to thinking about what is going on at home because today is her birthday. The reader gets to enter her mind through this technique. The choice of words and diction are those of a child. The use of dialogue makes the story seem more personal, as the reader hears the teacher’s words at the same time the character does. Cisneros uses repetition in the story, counting down the years three separate times, emphasizing the youth of the main character. The author uses several similes, such as “the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk” and “eleven years rattling inside me like pennies in a tin Band-Aid box.” She also uses hyperbole, saying the sweater is “maybe a thousand years old.” These examples, along with the figurative language used to describe Rachel’s crying spell, all help the reader relate to Rachel.