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What metaphor does Steinbeck use in the following quote to reveal Lennie's character in...

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ds6 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:02 AM via web

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What metaphor does Steinbeck use in the following quote to reveal Lennie's character in Of Mice and Men?

George unslung his bindle and dropped it gently on the bank. "I ain't sure its good water," he said. "Looks kinda scummy."

Lennie dabbled his big paw in the water and wiggled his fingers so the water arose in little splashes; rings widened across the pool to the other side and came back again. Lennie watched them go. "Look, George. Look what I done." (p.3)

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 17, 2013 at 6:28 AM (Answer #1)

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It is important to remember, when trying to identify metaphors, that a metaphor is a comparison that is directly asserted between one thing and something else, something that isn't literally true. It is slightly harder to spot a metaphor than a simile because with a metaphor you do not have either of the two words "like" or "as" that betray the presence of a simile. In the quote above, it is clear that the metaphor concerns the presentation of Lennie and comes when he is said to dip his "paw" into the water. Clearly, "paw" is being used instead of his hand, and this is used to indicate the animal imagery that is associated with Lennie. This is a technique that Steinbeck adopts at various points through the novel. Note, for example, how Lennie is first introduced in Chapter 1:

...and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws.

Such repeated examples show the way that Steinbeck highlights that Lennie is a character who, in some senses, is more animal-like in the way he responds to instincts than human. From the first chapter, therefore, two impressions strike the reader about Lennie: firstly his animal-like nature, and secondly the way that he is presented as a child trapped in an adult's body, as his childish fascination when playing with water demonstrates.

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