The Death of Benny Paret Analysis

“The Death of Benny Paret”, Mailer uses imagery and metaphors to aid the reader in feeling the atmosphere of the fight and grave nature of what happened to Benny Paret.

Imagery is used to show the reader, in their minds, what is going on in the story and allow them to better understand the story as a whole and also absorb the message the author is trying to convey. The author of the article uses imagery when he says “In the middle of the eighth round, after a clubbing punch had turned his back to Griffith, Paret walked three disgusted steps away, showing his hindquarters” (Mailer). Mailer uses strong imagery to better describe the attitude of Paret and how he feels about the way the fight is playing out. Here it can be seen that Paret feels like he has a small chance of winning after clearly being beaten down by Griffeth almost to the point of collapse. Mailer again uses imagery when he writes “it must have inspired a particular shame, because he [Paret] fought the rest of the fight as if he were seeking to demonstrate that he could take more punishment than any man alive” (Mailer). Mailer uses this to show the audience that even though Paret knows he is going to lose, he wants to everything and anything he can to prove to those watching that he isn’t one to just give up.

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Mailer could have just said this but instead chose to take a claim that Paret had once made and use it to back up the message. Finally, Mailer uses imagery when he says “He hit him eighteen right hands in a row, an act which took perhaps three or four seconds, Griffith making a pent-up whimpering sound all the while he attacked, the right hand whipping like a piston rod which has broken through the crankcase, or like a baseball bat demolishing a pumpkin” (Mailer). The writer uses these precisely placed words and phrases to solidify the anger and intensity of Griffeth and the fight in general. Also these words create a feeling of sympathy for Paret in the reader’s heart. The imagery is key in allowing the reader to see and feel the punches as well. Not only does Mailer use imagery to convey the message in the story but also uses various metaphors.

Precisely placed metaphors can make or break a piece of writing and the way that Mailer uses them, definitely makes the story. One piece of the story where Mailer uses a strong metaphor is when he says “there were four people holding Griffith, but he was off on an orgy, he had left the Garden, he was back on a hoodlum’s street” (Mailer). Mailer uses this metaphor to convey the message that, at this moment in time, Griffeth strayed away from traditional, reserved, boxing methods and instead was fighting like he was in a street or gang fight. The purpose of this is to show the reader the intensity and high level of violence within Griffeth that led to the death of Paret. Mailer again uses a successful metaphor when he writes “He went down more slowly than any fighter had ever gone down, he went down like a large ship which turns on end and slides second by second into its grave” (Mailer).

Mailer uses this metaphor to show that even in his dying seconds, Paret remained stout and prideful. It helps reiterate the message that Paret was a man who could take almost anything and survive yet this time he was unable to. Finally, Mailer uses a metaphor when he states “I was sitting in the second row of that corner—they were not ten feet away from me, and like everybody else, I was hypnotized” (Mailer). When Mailer says that he was hypnotized he is not being literal. Instead he is trying to further convey the atmosphere of the fight and how the level of captivation by the crowd was unlike any other fight ever. By using both strong imagery and metaphors, Mailer was able to create a captivating piece of writing that hooked readers all over the nation.

Not only did he capture their attention but he captured their hearts as well. He made them feel the fight, experience the fight, and feel sympathy for Benny Paret which without these writing techniques, would have never been possible.