''I did not know then that pride is a wonderful terrible thing,a seed that bears two vines, life and death" has what figure of speech? What does it contain, a metaphor, oxymoron, or...

''I did not know then that pride is a wonderful terrible thing,a seed that bears two vines, life and death" has what figure of speech?

What does it contain, a metaphor, oxymoron, or personification?

Expert Answers
poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To answer this question, let's consider what each of these three literary terms mean.

Personification is the representation of something nonhuman as having personal or human characteristics. 

An oxymoron is a rhetorical device which uses self-contradiction in order to reveal a paradox about something or to point out its opposing characteristics; it is positioned as the combination of such incongruous words. 

A metaphor is a figure of speech used to describe an object in a way that is not literal but which helps explain it; this is typically done through comparing that object to something else that it is not.

With these definitions in mind, we can now examine the quote. We can see that there's no personification present, as pride is not conceptually represented with human characteristics. 

There is an oxymoron present in this quotation: "a wonderful terrible thing." This seemingly illogical contradiction illustrates the duality of pride. Pride, as a concept, has the capacity to be both positive and negative.

Finally, we can see that the primary figure of speech used here is a metaphor. Pride is being compared to a seed that produces two vines. While pride is not literally a seed, we can better conceptually understand the author's view on pride through this comparison. 

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote from "The Scarlet Ibis," is an example of metaphor because it makes a comparison between two things that are not the same. In this case, Brother compares his pride to a seed. In addition, he compares the two vines which grow from seed to the concepts of life and death.

To put this metaphor into context, Brother is trying to teach Doodle to walk. As Brother comments in the story, Doodle had become a sort of project of his, and he was staunchly proud of all the things that he had taught Doodle to do.

However, through this metaphor, Brother makes it clear that his pride has a darker side because he is so concerned with teaching Doodle to walk (and, therefore, feeding his own sense of pride) that he neglects to consider Doodle's physical capabilities. Specifically, Doodle does not and will never have the same strength as Brother, a fact which ultimately leads to Doodle's tragic demise.

brendawm eNotes educator| Certified Educator
 ''I did not know then that pride is a wonderful terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death" contains an oxymoron, which is a figure of speech which produces what appears to be a self-contradictory statement.  Other examples include “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.” 
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The Scarlet Ibis

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