Are the phrases "people are dumb" and "mean as hell" types of figurative language from In Cold Blood and are they adequate?

Expert Answers
e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Going on a very strict definition of figurative langauge, the cited examples are figurative language but more adequate examples are present in the text of In Cold Blood

When looking for examples of figurative language, we can identify several types including metaphor and simile and also euphemism and figures of speech. 

  • On page 227, figure of speech is used in the phrase, "Hell would freeze".
  • On the next page a euphemism is used as Dick thinks he should have "silenced" Perry. "Silenced" here stands in for a specific phrase like "murdered" or "killed". 
  • A simile is used on page 224 when Perry's tongue is described as it "darted forth, like the pink tongue of a lizard." 

By expanding your search to include euphemism and figures of speech, the task of identifying examples of figurative language is made easier. 

jenniferhays eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Metaphors and similes both compare two unlike things.  However, metaphors use words such as, “as”, “was”, or “were”.  Similes compare the two unlike items using the words, “like”, or “as”.

Therefore, “she is mean” is not a metaphor.  However, “she is as mean as a snake” would be a simile.  “She is a snake,” would be a metaphor.

These are only two examples of figurative language.  There are other forms of figurative language, such as hyperbole (extreme exaggeration), allusions (reference to something well-known), and alliteration.

Best of luck!