Born a Crime

Born a Crime Imagery


Noah vividly evokes imagery to describe Alexandra, an impoverished suburb of Johannesburg. He describes the sounds, sights, and smells of the town in order to highlight the strong impression the place makes on him. While Noah has lived in several different places, he has never been anywhere like this, and by visiting Alexandra, he establishes a new connection to another aspect of the black South African experience. He will spend several years of life mainly in Alexandra, and the imagery he uses to describe it shows that he still feels a strong connection to the place.

Noah's preparations for prom

Once Noah has a date lined up for prom, he becomes very focused on making sure every detail of the night will be perfect. He gives a detailed description of getting his hair styled and choosing the right clothes. This imagery gives readers a lens into Noah's desire to win approval and love from a girl. It also allows for period-specific detail, such as when Noah describes wanting a long leather coat because of the popularity of the movie The Matrix. Finally, the imagery allows for an interesting insight into masculinity. More traditionally, it would be a young woman who is depicted fixating on her physical appearance; this imagery shows that a young man can be equally concerned about trying to look good.

Noah's poverty in the car repair shop

After Patricia helps Abel to buy his own car repair shop, the business starts to struggle. The family starts spending more and more time there, eventually moving in. Noah has to work very hard to help out, and the family also lives in poverty and uncomfortable conditions. Noah vividly evokes the discomfort of eating awful food, sleeping in a cramped car, having only cold water, and being surrounded by the smells of oil and gas. He uses imagery here to give readers a strong impression of what this experience was like and to show how vividly he can still recall these days. Noah describes this period as the most unhappy time of his life, and he uses strong imagery to convey what it was like.

Noah's weeping when his mother is shot

After hearing that his mother has been shot, Noah initially assumes her injuries must be minor. On the way to the hospital, he learns that she has, in fact, been shot in the head, and he starts crying uncontrollably. Noah uses imagery to convey the intensity of the grief he feels at this moment. He is convinced that his mother is either dead or dying, and this provokes a level of pain he has never felt before. Although he will probably never be able to entirely capture the emotional intensity of the moment for readers, Noah's use of imagery allows the reader to grasp some sense of what he was feeling in this moment.