Truman Capote, A Diamond Guitar (excerpt)
The nearest town to the prison farm is twenty miles away. Many forests of pine trees stand between the farm and the town, and it is in these forests
that the convicts work; they tap for turpentine. The prison itself is in a forest. You will find it there at the end of a red rutted road, barbed wire
sprawling like a vine over its walls. Inside, there live one hundred and nine white men, ninety-
house there is one large pot-
the moon the men, stretched on their iron cots, lie awake with the fire colours of the stove playing in their eyes.
The men whose cots are nearest the stove are the important men those who are looked up to or feared. Mr. Schaeffer is one of these. Mr. Schaeffer
He has reddish, silvering hair, and his face is attenuated, religious; there is no flesh to him; you can see the workings of his bones, and his eyes are
a poor, dull colour. He can read and he can write, he can add a column of figures.
When another man receives a letter, he brings it to Mr. Schaeffer. Most of these letters are sad and complaining; very often Mr. Schaeffer improvises
more cheerful messages and does not read what is written on the page. In the sleep house there are two other men who can read. Even so, one of
them brings his letters to Mr. Schaeffer, who obliges by never reading the truth. Mr. Schaeffer himself does not receive mail, not even at Christmas;
he seems to have no friends beyond the prison, and actually he has none there -
Answer the questions in your own words.
1. What is described in the text?
2. In what way do the descriptions in the two paragraphs differ?
3. What kind of text do we deal with?
4. Comment on the setting of the excerpt.
5. What is the function of this extract?
6. What do we learn about the narrator and his perspective? How is the story presented? Does this introduction interest you?
7. Would you like to read the story? Why? Why not?
8. Translate from line 1 to line 12.