Paper Moon (1973)

Brief Intro

“Paper Moon,” directed by Peter Bogdanovich, is a 1973 American comedy-drama film set during the Great Depression. The film stars real-life father and daughter duo Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, and follows the adventures of a con man and a young girl as they navigate scams and unexpected bonds. Its blend of humor and heart, along with striking black-and-white cinematography, makes it a timeless classic.

Literary Devices Used in Paper Moon


Movie SceneDevice Example
Addie and Moses first meetAddie is referred to as a “sharp as a tack.”
Scene in the churchThe collection plate is a “golden opportunity.”


Movie SceneDevice Example
Addie’s photographRepresents her connection to her past and her mother.
The $200Symbolizes trust and the bond forming between Addie and Moses.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Addie cons a con manAddie outsmarts Moses, the seasoned con artist.
The chase sceneLaw enforcement is fooled by the innocent facade.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Addie insists on traveling with MosesHints at their eventual partnership and bond.
Trixie’s introductionPredicts complications in Moses and Addie’s relationship.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Addie’s reading materialReferences classic literature, indicating her intelligence.
Trixie’s makeup routineAlludes to the flapper era, providing historical context.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Addie’s candy purchase“I could eat a whole store of candy.”
Moses’s cons“I’ve sold swampland to desert folk.”


Movie SceneDevice Example
Addie’s memories of her motherReveals her motivations and attachment to Moses.
Moses’s past scamsProvides context for his distrust and cynicism.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The car breakdown“The car just decided it had enough.”
Addie’s money box“The box refuses to stay shut with all the money inside.”


Movie SceneDevice Example
Addie and Moses’s banterReveals their growing bond and dynamic.
Conversations with TrixieExposes her manipulative nature.


Movie SceneDevice Example
CigarettesRepeated throughout to symbolize Moses’s rough exterior.
Religious referencesHighlight the contrast between appearance and reality.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices


IronyDespite being a child, Addie often outsmarts adults.
DialogueHer sharp, witty dialogue shows her intelligence and resilience.


MetaphorOften seen as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” hiding his softer side.
FlashbackMoses’s past scams provide insight into his guarded nature.


SymbolismHer flamboyant appearance symbolizes superficiality.
AllusionHer references to popular culture of the era show her desire for status.

Character Dynamics

Addie and MosesTheir evolving relationship drives the narrative, revealing themes of trust and family.
Moses and TrixieHighlights the theme of deception and selfishness.

Thematic Analysis


IronyMany scams revolve around ironic twists where the con man gets conned.
DialogueQuick-witted exchanges highlight the constant deceit between characters.

Family and Trust

SymbolismThe $200 symbolizes the trust being built between Addie and Moses.
FlashbackAddie’s memories of her mother underscore her need for a parental figure.


MetaphorThe journey represents the struggle for survival during the Great Depression.
MotifCigarettes and alcohol frequently appear, symbolizing the escape from harsh realities.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismBlack-and-white filmEmphasizes the stark reality of the Great Depression.
IronyCamera anglesOften uses low angles to make Addie seem larger than life, despite her age.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene 1: Addie Outsmarts Moses

Watch Scene on YouTube This scene uses irony and dialogue to establish Addie’s sharp wit and intelligence, setting the stage for their dynamic relationship.

Scene 2: The $200 Bond

Watch Scene on YouTube This scene employs symbolism and foreshadowing, highlighting the growing trust and bond between Addie and Moses, crucial for the narrative’s emotional core.

Scene 3: The Chase

Watch Scene on YouTube A masterful use of irony and visual techniques, where the law is outsmarted by the duo, blending humor and tension perfectly.


Let’s test your knowledge with a fun, interactive quiz! 📝🎉

  1. Which literary device is prominently used in the scene where Addie outsmarts Moses?
  2. What does the $200 symbolize in the film?
    • A) Wealth
    • B) Trust and bond
    • C) Deception
    • D) Survival
  3. How is the theme of survival depicted through visual techniques?
    • A) Use of bright colors
    • B) Black-and-white film
    • C) Slow-motion scenes
    • D) Flashy costumes