How is the function of the prologue achieved in the novel a cage of butterflies by Brian Caswell?

By Vanessa Song.

The prologue of, A cage of Butterflies, by Brian Caswell sets up the action of the novel by hinting at the events to come and intrigues the reader into wanting to find out more about the mysterious events described in the prologue. Caswell manages to use a large range of techniques to achieve the purpose of the prologue, Some of these are: Visual Imagery, Mirroring and foreshadowing.

[1.] "Visual imagery is a flow of thoughts you can see, hear, feel, smell, or taste, It is the language of the arts, the emotions, and most important, of the deeper self.".

The Use of Imagery in this novel is used to create moods and influence the reader's feelings and emotions, The imagery can be used to make the reader feel anger, happiness or in the purologue's case, sympathy. Sympathy towards Richard, whose kindness was conveyed in his efforts to sway his car from hitting the old dog, in which the first part of the prologue was written about. Caswell uses strong visual words like; grinding and striking to describe the car wreck and at the same time allure the reader into reading more of the prologue.

[2.]"to be or give a faithful representation, image, or idea of: Her views on politics mirror mine completely".

Caswell utilises mirroring in the prologue of A cage of Butterflies very well, in that he manages to mirror one part of the prologue perfectly to another, E.g. On page two; "the explosion split the suburban calm and yellow flames leapt high, swallowing the twisted remains of the car greedily consuming everything inside it" and on page 3 "Almost instantaneously, there was a bright flash, followed by an endless moment later by a dull thud, like a firecraker from a distance…". So in these two cases, the prologue had began with an explosion and ended with an explosion, also to be taken note of is the relationship of the characters in both parts of the prologue; Richard Grace and Susan Grace whom are both siblings/twins and both accidents/explosions occurred on a rainy night at a similar hour of the night. It is also clear that both characters are connected with each other as Susan adresses him "Well richard its finally over, maybe now the babies will be at peace". (P3). More questions are now raised in the readers mind and they are now thoroughly engaged and want answers to the various queries that have been raised in the prologue and now want to know what is to come and what happened in between the events in 1998 and 1999 in the prologue, Readers want the full story.

[3.]to show or indicate beforehand; prefigure: Political upheavals foreshadowed war.

The use of foreshadowing in A cage of butterflies is used in the prologue to hint at what is to come later on in the novel, the promise to reveal answers if the reader chooses to read onward into the book. During the prologue Caswell links both Richard and Susan's names together with the last name Grace (blessing/graceful/gentle/caring). Brian Caswell uses forshadowing to hint at secrets and the importance of each character (The metamide children). E.g. "List of names and adresses some of them emphasised by the line of pink highlighter ruled through them…". These small hints are dropped extremely well without revealing the story line, and serve to leave the reader wanting more, thus choosing to read onward to uncover the secrets that have been presented yet not revealed to the reader.

In conlusion the function of the prologue has been successfully achieved in the three areas that have been chosen; Visual imagery, mirroring and foreshadowing, in that it manages to keep the reader hooked and wanting to know more about the story, the purpose of a prologue is to set up a story and give background information and other misc. information that will help build the novel and capture the reader's attention. Brian Caswell has succeeded in writing a capturing prologue that had readers begging for more.


Ms. Reagan Langner, Dr. Amrik Walia, Mr. Jeffrey Langner. Foundation for Mind-Body-Medicine. [online] Available from: [13/2/2010]

"Mirroring" Unabriged. Random House, Inc. 12 Feb 2010. .com/browse/foreshadowing

"Fore Shadowing". Unabriged. Random House, Inc. 12 Feb 2010. .com/browse/foreshadowing