The City and The City: Breach vs. breach

In the beginning of The City and The City, the language used is intentionally confusing to keep the reader on their toes.  Many words and phrases are used without explanation and the reader is meant to figure out the meanings of these words by contextual evidence and further reading through the story. One of the most important mysterious in the book is deciphering the meaning of Breach.

“Is there any chance we’re looking at breach?” (p. 14) is the first mention of breach in the book. Immediately after, words like “total” and “crosshatching” are used, and no other context is given. The reader is only able to pick up on this unknown word and continue reading, hoping to discover the meaning later on.

“‘Breach?’ I said. Drodin look startled. So in truth did Corwi, though she covered it. When Drodin said nothing, I said, “Don’t you think we’re watched by powers?” (p. 45) “‘All this Breach shit.'” She lowered her voice on Breach.” (p. 45). In this scene, the word “Breach” is capitalized, and seems to give a different meaning. Its easier to assume what Breach means at this point, given that the characters seem to be cautious of even speaking the word. But it clearly has a different meaning than “breach” with a lowercase. These words are intentionally left ambiguous for the reader to become intrigued and want to look further into.

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