The Iron Throat and Voyant Textual Analysis

Upon imputing Tillie Lerner’s The Iron Throat into the Voyant textual analysis database, we can conclude several hypotheses about the text with supportive evidence. The most used words in The Iron Throat are personal pronouns or propositions, providing compelling evidence about the interpersonal subject matter of this story as one of familial and communal relations. “Her” is used 49 times, “she” is used 47 times, and the most commonly seen proper pronoun is “Maize,” counted used 16 times. The aforementioned statement eludes to the already observable truth that the main character of The Iron Throat is, in fact, a young girl named Maize. The purpose of having evidence of this truth would be to refute any claims made that another character was the focal point of Lerner’s story. “He” is used 28 times, “him” is used 20 times, and “they” is used 20 times as well; nearly half as less male pronouns are present versus the amount of feminine pronouns counted in the story. Some less common words that repeat themselves frequently in The Iron Throat are “coal” and “night,” both appearing 12 times. “Black” and “earth” arrive 13 times each throughout. “Bowels” appears 10 times; this is an unusual amount of repeat occurrences for the word “bowel” to be seen in any literature outside of the sciences. From this we can announce a darkness weaves itself through the very earth of this tale, using a mathematic number as our evidentiary support. The commonalities of Lerner’s word choices are dark in nature and connotation.

There is an interesting affiliation of words that appear the same number of times; one could argue that Lerner does this intentionally to give the words used equally subtle associations with each other. Aside from the already mentioned black/earth, and coal/night, combinations of words, “daddy” and “death” each share 5 uses. Could we use the PCA analysis to claim that Maize has a perceived notion of death every time she thinks of her father, spending day in and day out breathing rotting air in the bowels of the earth? Is her father already a corpse, given that all his life entails is a journey each day underground, under the same soil we use to bury the dead? Lerner uses the words “little” and “mind” 5 times each in The Iron Throat. Are we, as readers, encouraged to believe that small-mindedness keeps humans in the state of poverty, depression, and anguish that we see of the Holbrook family?

The benefits of PCA analysis on literature cannot be felt until tried themselves on actual text. With its use we, as readers and critics, are given another angle through which to view the text that could and most likely will allow us to develop even more detailed textual understanding.

written by Shawna Marie Rodgers