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In James Joyce's "Araby," I need to find a simile, hyperbole and an understatement.

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sailorman222 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted September 7, 2012 at 8:00 PM via web

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In James Joyce's "Araby," I need to find a simile, hyperbole and an understatement.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 8, 2012 at 4:22 AM (Answer #1)

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James Joyce uses a number of literary devices in his short story, "Araby." 

A simile is the comparison of two dissimilar things that share similar characteristics, using "like" or "as." An example is, "You're like sunshine on a cloudy day." One cannot literally be the sun: burning, hot and glaring; however, you may make the speaker feel warm—making him or her feel alive, as the sun does.

It is important to remember that some literary devices, like simile and metaphor, are figurative in nature: these kinds are not to be taken literally. However, they create mental images (called "imagery") that make the piece of writing more engaging, and the elements of the story easier to imagine.

One simile is found on the second page of the story, where the protagonist describes how he responds to Mangan's sister, on whom he has a crush:

But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.

His body is compared to a harp, and the comparison continues as words and gestures are compared to fingers.

Hyperbole is another device Joyce uses. Simply put, it is exaggeration for effect. Another more specific definition is:

...obvious and deliberate exaggeration or an extravagant statement. It is a figure of speech not intended to be taken literally since it is exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. 

When the narrator gets on the train to go to Araby, his impatience makes him feel that everything is moving at a snail's pace—like the train.

After an intolerable delay the train moved out of the station slowly. It crept onward among the ruinous houses and over the twinkling river.

The train is not moving as he describes; but it feels to him as it is barely moving at all because of his excitement and anxiety, for he also reports that it only takes few minutes to reach his destination.

"Understatement" is also knows as meiosis: it is the opposite of exaggeration. In one part of the story, the narrator is speaking of the weather. Though the ground is sodden (meaning "soaked" or "saturated"), Joyce chooses to describe the fallen rain in an understated way.

Through one of the broken panes I heard the rain impinge upon the earth... playing in the sodden beds.

Instead of describing the rain as "torrential," Joyce describes it as "playing," as "needles of water" fall heavily ("impinging") to the earth, which is drenched—not the case for a misting of rain.

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