What literary device is the author using when she writes about Bob Ewell, "a little bantam cock of a man" strutting to the witness stand in Chapter 17 of "To Kill a Mockingbird"?

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ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The device is a metaphor. Bob Ewell is being compared to a small but fierce chicken which was often used in cock fights. The suggestion is that Ewell is an angry person, ready to fight as a moments' notice but he was really a small man with little power. His "strutting" like a chicken, would indicate a sort of display of bravery designed to scare others off. However, since is a "little bantam" ( or lightweight) man, his strutting is not taken seriously.

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The literary device Harper Lee is using in this situation is metaphor, the comparison of two things that have similar characteristics but which are not the same.  The author does not use "like" or "as", which distinguishes her use of literary device from simile.  The author is comparing Bob Ewell to a bantam rooster, because of his small physical build but extremely feisty, combative demeanor.  The metaphor also presents strong imagery, another literary device.  Through her choice of words, Lee enables the reader to visual Bob Ewell, a small man itching for a fight with everyone around him, lacking in stature but overflowing with belligerent confidence like "a little bantam cock", his chest thrust forward and head held high, stepping confidently up to the witness stand (Chapter 17).

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