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Chiastic Style of Halo

by Dispatcher

Note that this is NOT presented as a chiasmus.

Halo's storyline and environmental usages appears to follow a pattern known as Chiasmus. According to What is Chiasmus:

"The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the world's greatest dictionary, defines chiasmus as, "A grammatical figure by which the order of words in one of two of parallel clauses is inverted in the other."

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms by Chris Baldick provides a more extensive description:

chiasmus [ky-AZ-mus] (plural -mi), a figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. This may involve a repetition of the same words ("Pleasure's a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure" --Byron) or just a reversed parallel between two corresponding pairs of ideas . . . . The figure is especially common in 18th century English poetry, but is also found in prose of all periods. It is named after the Greek letter chi (x), indicating a "criss-cross" arrangement of terms. Adjective: chiastic.

As you can see, the proper adjective is chiastic and not "chiasmic" or "chiasmatic," as I've heard some say. Technically, the plural is chiasmi, (as with octopus). However, saying chiasmi can come across as pretentious, so you'll want to do that rarely."

The following site deals with a more complex form of chiastic style called therein "Davidic Chiasmus":


While disagreement and even controversy exists about authors and the publications which contain examples of chiastic style, the fact remains that chiasmus IS a stylistic form of conveying ideas; chiasmus is still largely unknown to most people. The following demonstrates that the chiastic style is not limited to the written language, but also can be found in a culture possessing an oral rather than written language:


"A Comparative Analysis of Ch'orti' Verbal Art and the Poetic Discourse Structures of Maya Hieroglyphic Writing"

I will demonstrate that the game called Halo possesses a strong chiastic style. According to Gamezilla Xbox's Halo Review:

"Halo's single player campaign is laid out over a series of ten chapters, all of which are pretty large."
They are, according to The Halo Story Page:
"The Pillar of Autumn
Truth and Reconciliation
The Silent Cartographer
Assault on the Control Room
343 Guilty Spark
The Library
Two Betrayals
The Maw"

It is interesting that the mood of Halo is relatively upbeat and the environments seem non-threatening in the chapters or levels up through the "Assault on the Control Room". Afterwards, beginning with "343 Guilty Spark", the mood is much more somber and the environments more deadly with the addition of the Flood and its victims; the shift is unexpected to the unversed player and the Flood are as frightening as the denizens of such games as System Shock and Undying. Viewed as a chiasmus, the mood shifts between the first and last halves of the game as far as chapters are concerned. Since the player must generally retrace his/ her steps through the world of Halo, it should be no surprise if we can also spot direct counterpoints as follows:

A. The Pillar of Autumn
  B. Halo
    C. Truth and Reconciliation
      D. The Silent Cartographer
        E. Assault on the Control Room
        e. 343 Guilty Spark
      d. The Library
    c. Two Betrayals
  b. Keyes
a. The Maw

Note that the crossing point is not a chapter but it occurs between chapters; this just shows the contrast within the pivotal pair and the introduction and significance of the Flood and the purpose of the Ring. We have these pairs:

The Pillar of Autumn ... The MawPoA and attendant craft
Halo ... KeyesRingside (or nearly so)
Truth and Reconciliation ... Two BetrayalsTruth, Reconciliation and Betrayal (a more fitting context?)
The Silent Cartographer ... The LibraryHalo Technology Installations
Assault on the Control Room ... 343 Guilty SparkGuarded Halo Technology Installations (secrets of Halo)

Conclusion: rather than just passing off the storyline and recycled levels as merely an excercise in resource management and cost cutting, it is plausible that Halo follows a deliberate Chiastic pattern.