What comparison does the author use for when his washing machine and dryer break?

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Fulgham poignantly describes the washing machine and dryer breaking as "an old couple" that die in close succession.  Fulgham overloaded the washing machine with too many towels and too much soap.  Both conditions caused it to engage in a "herky- jeryky" movement that he describes as a "seizure."  As it died, its companion expired, as well:

Five minutes later the dryer expired. Like a couple of elderly folks in a nursing home who follow one another quickly in death, so closely they are entwined.

While the purpose of the vignette was to marvel at the potential for moral and emotional cleansing, this comparison is also quite poignant. The idea of an elderly couple "in a nursing home" that have lived life with one another to such a great extent that they could not live without the other one is extremely touching.  The comparison of both dying within minutes of another to emphasize that "so closely they are entwined" is where the comparison achieves its most effective attachment to the reader.


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