In Of Mice and Men, what type of figurative language is used in Chapter 5 when Steinbeck says, "In panic he shoveled hay over the puppy with his fingers"?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The sentence "In a panic he shoveled hay over the puppy with his fingers" is not an example of figurative language. Lennie is literally trying to cover up the dead puppy with hay. Figurative language is used to make writing or speech more interesting or persuasive. It often uses a comparison between two unlike things to enhance the meaning of one of those things. Figurative language used in chapter five of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men includes simile, metaphor, personification and onomatopoeia. 

In the first paragraph, Steinbeck uses a simile when he writes: "The hay came down like a mountain slope to the other end of the barn." The mound of hay is compared to a mountain using the word "like." In the next paragraph the reader is given personification when Steinbeck calls the afternoon lazy. Lazy is a word that is usually applied to people. Personification is when non-human things are given human qualities. Another example is later in the chapter when  Steinbeck says, "the sun streaks climbed up the wall." And right after Curley's wife is killed Steinbeck writes, "gradually time awakened."

Onomatopoeia is when words mimic a sound. For example, Steinbeck uses the words "humming," to describe the sounds in the barn, and "clang," for the sound the horseshoes make hitting the stake. Curley's wife's hair being compared to little sausages is an example of a metaphor.

An extended metaphor in the chapter is much more subtle. Steinbeck mentions the horses rattling their halter chains four times in the chapter. Steinbeck wants to compare the fate of George and Lennie to that of the horses. They are not free. Circumstances always intervene to prevent them from living the dream of owning their own farm and exerting free will. Like the horses they are chained to a fate they cannot change.