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Throughout Lullaby, Palahniuk manipulates traditional communication by obscuring the roles of speaker and recipient with the culling song, a poem that causes instant death to those who hear it. Despite the obvious incorporation of magic and fantasy, the novel reflects genuine aspects of linguistic functions and indicates authentic applications for the use of language and speech acts in the actual process of communication. The author highlights the impact that language bears upon one’s psyche, as individuals’ thoughts often transpire into words, and consequentially, into threatening actions that jeopardize others’ well-being. Palahniuk’s manipulation of traditional communication is that victims do not actually have to hear the culling song for it to enact its murderous effects, hereby destroying the assumption that ignorance is bliss and further reiterating the significance of being able to accurately interpret speakers’ language and intentions. Although no texts in actuality will produce effects as extreme as causing instant death to language recipients, Lullaby highlights the importance of reader discretion regarding textual purposes, intentions, and implications regarding linguistic communication to avoid misreading, misinterpreting, and misunderstanding.


Krantz, Brittany. “Say What?: The Power of Language and Communication Demonstrated in Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby’”. HyperCultura 4.2 (2015)



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