Figurative language is language that is not meant to be taken literally. It is creative language used to add spice and interest to a writer’s work. Much of the writing in this work is sparse and concise in tone, but occasionally there is some figurative language to add a spark. Figurative language might include a simile or a metaphor. A simile, like the one below, will use a comparison with “like” or “as.”
But today, despite the bright banners hanging on the buildings, there's an air of grimness. The camera crews, perched like buzzards on rooftops, only add to the effect. (Ch. 1)
In this case, the camera crews are compared to buzzards because they are preying on the people at the reaping. Although the Capital tries to create a festive atmosphere by hanging colorful banners, the people know that some of their children will be chosen. They are not feeling cheerful.
There is another type of comparison that is more direct.
We always wait to trade with him when his witch of a wife isn’t around because he’s so much nicer. (Ch. 3)
This is an example of a metaphor. Katniss does not like the baker’s wife. She saw her beat Peeta for giving Katniss bread at one time. This is why she says “witch of a wife.” She is comparing her to a witch, but she does not say that she is like a witch. She says that she is a witch. This is what makes it a metaphor.
As we have seen, figurative language can be used for characterization, as well as to describe the setting. Sometimes, similes or metaphors can be paired for increased effect.
One time, my mother told me that I always eat like I'll never see food again. And I said, "I won't unless I bring it home." That shut her up.
When my stomach feels like it's about to split open, I lean back and take in my breakfast companions. (Ch. 4)
Here, the two similes both work together to show how Katniss is not used to getting food, and her reaction to getting an unlimited supply. Katniss does not want to take advantage of her circumstances, because she does not like the Capital, but she is so hungry that she can’t help herself.
Although there are not many examples of figurative language in this book, there are a few. When they are included, they are more meaningful because they are rare. Since the language is so stark and simple, they stand out more, and add to the storytelling. They characterize Katniss and other characters, and help to describe the setting and create a mood.