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"They named him William Armstrong which was like tying a big tail on a small kite."...

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higareda | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:44 PM via web

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"They named him William Armstrong which was like tying a big tail on a small kite." What is the meaning of this quote from "The Scarlet Ibis"?

Figurative language or simile?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 31, 2011 at 10:51 AM (Answer #1)

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Doodle was such a tiny and sickly baby that he was not expected to live. His parents waited three months before naming him, and when they decided on a name, they gave him a big one. The significance of the quote--

"They named him William Armstrong which was like tying a big tail on a small kite"

--is that the name was both long and symbolically powerful for such a "shriveled," weak little baby. The name "Armstrong" denotes a person with a strong arm--a mighty person. Doodle was hardly that. The simile that follows compares the name with a soaring kite, but it is a kite that will never be able to fly: Like Doodle's tiny body and large head, the small kite and big tail are a mismatched pairing whose flight will be a short one.

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