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What literary technique is used in the following passage? (below)"...What bothers...

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cocoboco | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 18, 2007 at 9:44 AM via web

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What literary technique is used in the following passage? (below)

"...What bothers me is that she and Jem will have to absorb some ugly things pretty soon. I'm not worried about Jem keeping his head, but Scout'd just as soon jump on someone as look at him if her pride's at stake..."

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sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 18, 2007 at 7:36 PM (Answer #1)

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Several literary devices are used in this passage. "Absorb some ugly things" is a metaphor that gives turns experiences, which are actions and behaviors, and ideas, into things, which have an appearance, and can therefore be "ugly." In addition, we do not "absorb" things, including ideas:  we "think" them and "experience" them.  In other words, the expression is figuratively true but not literally true. The expression is so common in our speech, however, that we call it a "dead metaphor."  "Jem keeping his head" is an example of metonymy, a form of metaphor, in which Jem's head represents his "mind," and more specifically in this case, his temper and good judgment. Of course that one cannot literally lose or "keep" an intangible object such as this, so again, the expression is not literally true but figuratively true.  As with "absorb ugly things," "keeping his head" is a dead metaphor because it is such a common expression. 

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