Literary devices are techniques used by writers of literature to better describe whatever they are writing about. For example, when Robert Burns wanted to describe his love, he didn’t say, “My love is beautiful”; he instead opted for the more imaginative and compelling simile “My love is like a red, red rose” (1). Other common literary devices include metaphors, diction, personification, and hyperbole.
In this passage from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953), Faber instructs Montag on the role of literature in society. He says books “show the pores in the face of life.” This is an instance of metaphor and personification, since books can’t really “show the pores” and life doesn’t actually have a face like humans do. Since pores are small blemishes, Faber, and ultimately Bradbury, here describe and emphasize how books reveal blemishes, or injustices and inconsistencies, in everyday life. To continue this idea, look at the following sentence: “The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.” This is a second instance of metaphor, since pale, blemish-free faces are compared to wax moons. The comfortable people, or the people in charge of society, don’t want society to change, because the current configuration of society allows them to acquire comfort at the top. Were the injustices and inconsistencies of society revealed to the public through literature, the current configuration of society could change. The last few sentences operate as an analogy, or an extended metaphor. Flowers don’t really eat flowers, nor do people really eat flowers or fireworks. Through this analogy, Bradbury suggests that books help people understand things distinct from themselves, thereby allowing them to learn more about the world and grow as individuals.
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