What is a simile in Anthem?
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Similes are a type of figurative language that compares unlike things, and can create mood.
A simile is a comparison using like or as. It is an example of figurative language. It adds beauty, mystery, and meaning to work. Authors use similes to let you know what a character is thinking, and to add symbolism to their work. Similes are also perfect for creating mood, because they can perfectly capture emotions. Consider the following simile.
The sky is like a black sieve pierced by silver drops that tremble, ready to burst through. (Ch. 1)
This is a beautiful simile. It compares the sky to not only a sieve, but a black sieve! Don’t you just feel the raw pressure and frustration here, but also the potential? There is both oppression and beauty in this statement. We are being held down, but we feel like we are going to get out soon. This is exactly the atmosphere Rand is setting up in her dystopic world, where everything is collective and there is no individuality.
Here is another example of the other kind of simile, the one that uses “as.”
And then we saw iron rings as steps leading down a shaft into a darkness without bottom. (Ch. 1)
Here, you can see the potential I spoke of earlier. It is forbidden to explore the unknown of the whole. Yet the council does not know what is in the whole. There is so much that might be there. We might get in trouble for going there. Yet we are so suppressed in our perfect collectivist world. We long to be individuals, to make our own choices.
Similes give the reader a chance to express. They make an emotional impact in the reader, and allow the author to create the mood that captures the characters.
Some similes from the book Anthem by Ayn Rand are: "We blew out the candle. Darkness swallowed us. There was nothing left around us, save night and a thin thread of flame in it, as a crack in the wall of a prison". "But International 4-8818 are different. They are a tall, strong youth and their eyes are like fireflies . . . ". "The shoulders of our Brothers are hunched, and their muscles are drawn, as if their bodies were shrinking and wished to shrink out of sight".
It is curious that the narrator of this dystopian novella, Anthem, looks for similarities and uses comparisons of things as he begins to break from his conformity to society into an individual. For, ironically, in this discovery of comparisons, Equality 7-2521 breaks from his collectivity. Still, he who is taller than the others, has always had thoughts and wishes that have been forbidden; he has always been different from others.
Because of this latent proclivity to be individualistic, Equality 7-2521 has been put in other places, places where his brain is to be trained, but always he thinks more and better than others. After he is made a Street Sweeper as a punishment, he discovers an iron grid over a hole and secretly descends into it, the place from the Unmentionable Times when there was learning.
When Equality 7-2521 discovers more new things, he describes them with figurative language. One of these is a woman named Liberty 5-3000. In Part II, Equality 7-2521 describes a street that he and the other sweepers must keep clean. In his description there are two similes describing the area near the street:
The fields are black and ploughed, and they lie like a great fan before us with their furrows gathered in some hand beyond the sky, spreading forth from that hand, opening wide apart as theycome toward us, like black pleats that sparkle with thin, green spangles.
As an indication of his developed thought processes, there is yet another simile following this one:
Women work in the fields, and their white tunics in the wind are like the wings of sea gulls beating over the black soil.
Simile: an example of figurative language in which a comparison is made between two different things using "like" or "as."
Equality 7-2521 uses similes to describe The Golden One. Given that he perceives her as "not like the others," he must resort to methods of description that go beyond the normal prescriptions of grammar common to his society's way of speaking. Note that the very language of Equality's society is representative of their collectivist culture which has outlawed individualism. Thus, when he waxes poetic, with metaphor and simile, he is attempting to be more of an individual and thereby to describe The Golden One as an individual - which she must be, set apart, since she is "not like the others."
And the drops of water falling from their hands, as they raised the water to their lips, were like sparks of fire in the sun.
The drops of water, falling from the Golden One's hands, sparkle like the sun, like "gold." Everything about her shines - from his perspective. Thus, she stands out from the others, brighter. His awakening of himself as an individual is complemented by his awakening of The Golden One as an individual as well.
Equality describes his light:
Only the glass box in our arms is like a living heart that gives us strength.
Equality uses a simile to describe the glass box (the light) he created. Note the continuing use of light imagery - with the light itself (glass box) and The Golden One. The image of light suggests an "enlightenment," and/or an "illumination" in the senses of clarifying and explaining. The energy of the glass box is compared to a heart: to life itself.
Again, Equality uses similes to describe The Golden One, still with images of light:
The skin of their arms is like a blue mist, but their shoulders are white and glowing, as if the light fell not from above, but rose from under their skin. We watch the leaf which has fallen upon their shoulder, and it lies at the curve of their neck, and a drop of dew glistens upon it like a jewel.
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