Anacoluthon


Anacoluthon (an-a-co-lu’-thon): A grammatical interruption or lack of implied sequence within a sentence. That is, beginning a sentence in a way that implies a certain logical resolution, but concluding it differently than the grammar leads one to expect. Anacoluthon can be either a grammatical fault or a stylistic virtue, depending on its use. In either case, it is an interruption or a verbal lack of symmetry. Anacoluthon is characteristic of spoken language or interior thought, and thus suggests those domains when it occurs in writing.


I was running, run, run, run like a nose, like a river, like an electric appliance plugged into the wall of nature—a sweet contrivance, seemingly edible, smelling like bacon or a dirty charcoal grill afire on the deck of love, peace, and happiness I basked on in 1966, before I joined the Army so I could go to college tuition-free some day, and learn more than anybody in my family and dazzle our ignorant neighbors with the pile of knowledge accumulated in my head.

There I was at Ft. Dix, New Jersey wondering why the drill instructors said “hup, two, three, four” instead of “one, two, three, four.” So, I asked Staff Sgt. Blood why. He said, “Get down and give me 200.” I didn’t know what that meant, so I got on all fours and started crawling toward Newark, which was roughly 200 miles from Ft. Dix. I wanted to be obedient, and I had given it my best shot, but I got put on guard duty for the “duration” and vowed to bear the high responsibility with pluck and determination, risking my life if need be fending off an invasion of the Fort, or thieves stealing flour and coffee and other edibles from the mess hall warehouse I was diligently guarding. I had one bullet in my M-14. I tripped on the curb as I was patrolling by the warehouse, and my M-14 slipped out of my hands, hit the pavement hard, and fired.

I ran and kept running. Then, I stopped. It was a accident. What could happen? I turned myself in to the first MPs I saw. They were laughing really hard as they handcuffed me and put me in the back of their Jeep. I was charged with leaving my post and received one week of hard labor working as a bouncer at the Fort’s Bar called “Atten-hup” where all the trainees got as drunk as they could on 3.2 beer whenever they had a chance. I did a great job helping to contain the bar’s ruckus—I was big and could make a very scary face.

When I finished basic training, I was shipped to Ft. Gordon for—you guessed it—Military Police training. I learned how to arrest people, beat them up, fingerprint them, and book them. I loved my night stick and my .45 auto strapped to my hip. I was nineteen years old. I couldn’t wait to shoot somebody.

After MP training, I went jump school. I almost died when, on my second jump, I forgot to hook up my static line and the guy behind me failed to notice. I went out the airplane’s door and started falling straight down—I could hear the wind whistling in my ears as I plummeted past my colleagues. I pulled the handle on my reserve chute and it popped open almost as I hit the ground. I was knocked unconscious. I saw an image of Little Orphan Annie dancing in my head. I staggered off the Drop Zone. Everybody cheered.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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