What is the meaning of a literary device present in Chapter 4 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like other authors, Harper Lee employs literary devices in order to provide a richness of meaning as well as clarity to her narrative. 

In Chapter 4 of To Kill a Mockingbird, there are several metaphors and similes—comparisons that are made between things that are essentially unlike. In fact, from the beginning of the chapter, Lee utilizes these literary devices. For instance, Scout refers to the remainder of her school days as "an endless Project that slowly evolved into a Unit." This implicit comparison of her time at school to an unending project is a metaphor.

Further, Scout describes the change in her relationship with Calpurnia since she has started going to school. This description includes the use of the literary device of alliteration, the repetition of initial consonant sounds:

Calpurnia's tyranny, unfairness, and meddling in my business had faded to gentle grumblings of general disapproval. [the /g/ is repeated]

In a metaphor, Scout describes summer as everything good to eat and sleeping on cots on the porch. Also, 

...it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape....

In this metaphor the season of summer is equated to "a parched landscape." 

The use of this metaphor creates images for the reader, thus intensifying meaning. Summer is an abstract concept for a season and period of time. But, with the use of an unstated comparison, concrete meaning and images are created as the reader can easily imagine dried grass that is yellowed from the unrelenting sun against a blue sun that might go between tree branches, creating a prism of colors. 

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an example of a metaphor.

[As] I inched sluggishly along the treadmill of the Maycomb County school system, I could not help receiving the impression that I was being cheated out of something. (ch 4)

A metaphor is a figure of speech comparing unlike things.  In this case, Scout is comparing her progress in school to “inching” along on a treadmill.  A treadmill is a machine where you walk and go nowhere, and Scout feels as if she is getting nowhere in school.

Metaphors are used to create images in a reader’s mind.  In this case, the metaphor makes it clear that Scout is suffering through endless boredom and not accomplishing much. We feel her pain and laugh all at once.


jennachapman | Student

lol, i had the same question, found some answers:

"The tire bumped on gravel, skeetered... and popped me like a cork onto pavement."--Scout's description of her tire ride onto the Radley property. (Similie)

"Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screeneed porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat;it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape." (Metaphor)

These are both in ch. 4. hope these help, Jason!!!

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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