Please give an example of a metaphor, simile, hyperbole, personification, and onomatopoeia in The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Holling Hoodhood is only in seventh grade, but he has a vivid imagination and an effective vocabulary. He is the narrator of The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt and he makes his story come alive for his readers by using figurative language. 

Figurative language is useful because it utilizes the senses to enhance the meaning and experience for the readers. Your question mentions five specific kinds of figurative language, and I easily found multiple examples of each in the novel.

A metaphor is a comparison between two things, and in the following metaphor, Holling compares his baseball hero, Mickey Mantle, to a god. When he finally meets his hero, he is horribly hurt and disappointed. He describes it this way:

When gods die, they die hard.

The baseball legend was held in high esteem by Holling before this incident, and it was difficult for Holling to see him fall (figuratively, die).

A simile is also a comparison between two things; however, it uses either like or as to make the comparison. When Holling is being threatened every day in class, even by his friends, to bring them some cream puffs, he compares his experience to a character in The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare:

I remembered the death threats hanging over me like Shylock’s knife hanging over Antonio’s chest.

Hyperbole is exaggeration used for effect, and we should not be surprised that a seventh-grader demonstrates plenty of this as he recounts his experiences. (The Antonio and Shylock is a bit hyperbolic, as well, since Shylock was literally going to cut a pound of flesh out of Antonio and the worst thing Holling's classmates did is hiss a few words at him.) When he is trying to clean the rats' cages, Holling inadvertently traps Sycorax and Caliban. He looks down at them and describes what he sees:

They both turned their little black eyes toward me--bulging with demonic delight--and clawed hysterically at the bars that were hardly holding them from escape.

Obviously this is a frightening scenario for the boy; however, the rats are certainly not demon-possessed.

Personification is giving human qualities or characteristics to something non-human or non-living, and Holling often uses personification to create an effective image.

The day was still a perfect blue October day, as if it had been waiting for me since I’d missed it at lunch recess.

We know this is an example of personification because days are not capable of waiting--much as we sometimes wih they would. Waiting is a human characteristic which is given here to something non-human.

Finally, Holling uses onomatopoeia to add a sense of excitement and color to his writing, as it uses words to make sounds. Every time he is anywhere near the two rats, Holling describes their “clacking their yellow teeth.” Though it is perhaps unpleasant to imagine the sound, it is an effective use of onomatopoeia.

ruggy | Student

gator, you wouldnt happeto go to bushland middle scool would you? oh well


Metaphor: Of all the kids at Camillo Junior High, there was one kid Mrs. Baker hated with heat whiter than the sun. Page 1


Simile:This look came over her face like the sun had winked out and was not going to shine again until next June. Page 4




Personification: When I reached it, the stream rippled happily, as if it had been waiting just for me this whole time. Page 257 author created an effect of joy


Onomatopoeia: It squelched while we walked, though sometimes it was hard to tell. Page 251

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The Wednesday Wars

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