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Written by Helen Smith
William Stoner spends his life teaching and studying at University, ultimately becoming a significant figure within his school's English department. The collegiate imagery throughout the novel shows the turmoil Stoner experiences the older he becomes in relation to his body of scholarship and the fact that he eventually must retire. The repetition of this imagery as his life changes strengthens the mood of the book.
Stoner's home is largely unhappy, and the novel's events which take place there are strongly negative. This imagery contrasts against the imagery of outdoor scenes, and the sensory details additionally show insight to Stoner as a character. His home provides a backdrop for his choice about whether or not to go fight in the war.
Stoner grows up on a farm and decides not to return once he experiences the world of academia. The imagery of his early life ties in with the description of his first familial setting to show how he chooses his path. In particular, the bucolic imagery shows how he could have worked there but leaves at the same time he learns the words to describe it fully.
The novel illustrates several introductory courses in English. The survey course Stoner is required to take opens the world of books to him, and as he grows more revered within his department, he is able to teach advanced material to the youngest group of college students. This transition from the acquisition of knowledge through a basic introduction to the presentation of material for students who are ready to take on more developed bodies of knowledge is showcased by imagery.
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