In his "Letter to Sarah Ballou,” Major Sullivan Ballou uses diction, syntax, and imagery to create a tone of profound, yet deferential, love and tribute. His words are carefully selected and interposed to portray the depth of his feelings. Ballou's love for his country and his love for his wife, Sarah, both permeate through the letter and linger in his words. Through his expressions of these loves, he pays abundant homage to both subjects.
"Sarah my love for you is deathless.” Ballou's selection of words throughout his letter clearly shows the intensity of his love for his wife. He professes that although he may die, his love would never. "But, O Sarah! if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights.always, always.” Through his endless love Ballou reminisces the "blissful moments” he had spent with his wife. By asserting his being "most gratified to God and to you” for these moments, Ballou pays homage to Sarah. His love is not condescending and it does not take his wife for granted. It is out of this love that spring deference and honor through which he laments the "many faults, and the many pains I have caused you.” It is out of this homage that he comforts his wife and reassures her that he believes he "shall return to my loved ones unharmed.” Even so, he pleads "my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name.” These expressions of love, invoke deep emotions and manifest the reality of his sentiments.
The author's use of imagery works to illustrate the strength and immutability of his love. He declares that his love for his wife "seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break.” These words immediately paint a picture of endurance, colored with the permanence of Ballou's love.