The Razor's Edge Literary Elements

The Razor's Edge Literary Elements


A novel

Setting and Context

The events take place in a time period from 1919 to the 1940s, mostly in Chicago and Paris. Due to the fact that the main character travels a lot, the settings constantly change.

Narrator and Point of View

The story is told from the first person point of view by the narrator, who is also one of the characters of the novel.

Tone and Mood

The tone is light and ironic. However, the mood of the story constantly changes from light to anxious and from indifferent to desperate.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Larry Darrel, a young veteran of the First World War, is the protagonist of the story. Elliot Templeton is the antagonist of the story.

Major Conflict

The major conflict in this novel is person vs. society. Larry’s unwillingness to follow a well-trodden path is not accepted by his friends, acquaintances and even his fiancé.


Isabel’s trick on Sophie is the climax of the story. If she wouldn’t have left Sophie with a bottle of alcohol alone, Sophie would have a chance to escape temptation. This is also a turning point of the novel from which things could go differently.


The first meeting of the narrator with Larry and Isabel is a foreshadowing. He says that he feels sorry for them, for he senses that their love story is not going to have a happy end.


War’s influence on a person is an understatement. The characters can’t believe that the war could change Larry so greatly.


There is mention of Herodotus, Henry James, Buhl, Chippendale, Madame de Pompadour, Watteau, Fragonard, Claude Lorraine and many other prominent musicians and writers.


The imagery is used to describe appearances of the characters.


It’s a pain that’s a heaven.
Isabel’s describes her love for Larry with the help of a paradox, for her love is also paradoxical to some extent.


She was bad, bad, bad. I’m glad she’s dead.
This example of parallelism is used to show Isabel’s anxiety.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

He had no feeling of hatred for the Jerries.
Jerries are an example of synecdoche. Jerries mean Americans, the citizens of the United States.
We stopped and asked if they wanted a couple of hands.
Hands are an example of metonymy, where hands mean helpers.


It was true Paris was gay.
This is an example of personification, for Paris can’t feel emotions, thus be sad or gay.

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