Rain Sonata

story by Kara Peter , illustrated by Anna Bron

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to use metalanguage to analyse a text’s stylistic features so that I can discuss my interpretation with my peers.

Success Criteria:

  • I can identify a range of stylistic features in a text and use metalanguage to analyse them (connotation and imagery).
  • I can explain my interpretation of the effect these stylistic devices have on the reader.
  • I can compare the stylistic features used in two texts with a similar subject matter.

Essential Knowledge:

More information about how authors write with distinctive features can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Style.

More information on analysing implied meaning and the use of figurative devices can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Connotation, Imagery and Symbol.

A suggested sequence for introducing connotation and imagery can be found on the NSW Education webpage Connotation, imagery and symbol Stage 3.

NB: The concluding stage of this activity compares ‘Rain Sonata’ with the story ‘Eruption at Lava Falls’ (this issue).

Prior to reading ‘Rain Sonata’, frontload the structure and stylistic features of the text:

  • It does not follow a conventional narrative structure. The text is a vignette – a vivid description of a brief and significant moment in time.
  • A range of words are used with negative and positive connotations to establish and shift the tone of the text.
  • Imagery (metaphor, simile and personification) features to ensure the description is rich and easy to imagine.

Define metalaguage (connotation, tone, imagery, metaphor, simile, personification) as required using the NSW Syllabus Glossary.

Read the text aloud. Instruct students to close their eyes and imagine the world of the text. This should include: the parched landscape, the imposing glass piano, the feel of the piano’s keys, the sounds of the music and the rhythm of Jora as she plays. After reading, you may wish to collate student observations on an interactive presentation tool such as Mentimeter.

After reading, provide students with a copy of the written text, accompanied by a table to analyse its stylistic features. The same table has been used in the Learning Resource for ‘Eruption at Lava Falls’ and this activity can be used to consolidate understanding and gradually release responsibility.

Students re-read the text independently, or in groups, before completing the table. Suggested interpretations are below, however provide students the freedom to interpret the texts any way that seems appropriate.

Stylistic feature Example Effect on reader Why the author used it
Connotations (words) high in the mountains a glass castle rose … uppermost room stood glass piano” These words evoke the risk and fragility of Jora’s situation. She is very high up, which can feel scary and threatening. Also, everything is made of glass, which is fragile and easily broken. The words high / uppermost and glass have a negative connotation. The author is demonstrating how dangerous Jora’s situation is.
Connotations (colours) The colours in the pictures change from tans and browns to a vibrant green. The tans and browns emphasise how dry the land is, whereas the green demonstrates how much rain there has been. Colours also connote emotions. The author is using dull tans and browns to imply pessimism, while the greens imply freshness and optimism.
Imagery – metaphor “perfect black notes were drops of inky rain.” They can easily imagine what the musical score looks like, with musical notes splashed across the page The author is also creating a direct link between the music and rain. It is as if they are the same thing.
Imagery – simile “The rain tasted like music.” This is an unusual comparison and the audience would ponder what music would taste like. The author uses this simile to further link the music and the rain. Not only do they behave the same way and sound similar, they also taste similar.
Imagery - personification “spread of calloused, tan farmland below” The audience have a vivid description of how dry the land is because they imagine it looking like an old farmer’s hand. The author uses personification to show the close relationship people have with the land. This is emphasised because Jora has control over the weather.


After students have conducted a close reading of the text, instruct them to write down their favourite quotation. Students should draw an illustration of the quotation and use colours that have appropriate connotations. Underneath, they should write their interpretation of the quotation. The following sentence stems can be used to guide interpretation:

The meaning of this quotation is …

The effect on the audience might be …

The author used (insert stylistic feature) because …

Students can share their interpretations with their peers.

Assessment for/as learning:

Finally, using a Venn Diagram (a template is available in the Digital Learning Selector’s Graphic Organisers page) students can compare the stylistic features used in texts on a similar topic. Explain that both ‘Eruption at Lava Falls’ and ‘Rain Sonata’ explore the relationship humans have with their environment.

Some points of similarity include: colour connotation, use of personification, symbolism.

Some points of difference include: tone (humour vs. serious), structure (narrative vs. vignette), pun vs. imagery.