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Identify metaphors and hyperbole in "The Chrysanthemums."John Steinbeck's "The...

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daehanminguk | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 2, 2011 at 9:17 AM via web

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Identify metaphors and hyperbole in "The Chrysanthemums."

John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 2, 2011 at 11:04 AM (Answer #1)

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Authors often use literary devices in their narratives as the employment of this figurative language embellishes a story, making  the common uncommon, extending the meaning of something beyond its usual denotation.  In "The Chrysanthemums," a story about which Steinbeck himself wrote,

It is entirely different and designed to strike without the reader's knowledge,

there are unique and interesting figures of speech.  In fact, the very first sentence contains both metaphor and hyperbole:

  • The high grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salina Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world.

[the fog is compared to grey-flannel = metaphor, an implied comparison of two unlike things]

["all the rest of the world" is a hyperbole, an obvious exaggeration as it only closes the valley.]

  • As Elisa Allen works in her flower garden, she "brushed a cloud of hair out of her eyes...."  With a metaphor, Steinbeck compares Elisa's hair that is in her eyes to a cloud, suggesting the fog that hangs over the valley. 
  •  As she works quickly in the dirt, the author describes her hands as having "terrier fingers," another metaphor.
  • When the tinker pulls onto the Allen property, the two ranch shephers fly out at the little mongrel who accompanies the tinker.  All three dogs stop, and with..."ambassadorial dignity" they sniff one another.  This metaphor is delightfully descriptive; the dogs observe a protocol evidently regarding how they approach one another's end. 
  • Using hyperbole, Steinbeck refers to the one old wagon, the horse, the donkey, the dog, and the tinker as "the caravan." 
  • When the bedraggled horse and donkey "leaned luxuriously into their collars," hyperbole is again used as the poor, mismatched animals could never look luxurious.
  • As the tinker leaves with her chrysanthemum in a pot, Elisha considers it metaphorically, "That's a bright directionThere's a glowing there." She envisions a part of her passion extended to another person.
  • Elisa stands on the porch as she waits for her husband to clean up; she looks toward the river road an perceives the willow-line as a "thin band of sunshine."  Here the willows still yellow with frosted leaves are compared to the sunshine in a metaphor.

 

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