I need to know if this quote is a metaphor, similie or something else? "It was like watching Atticus walk  into the street,raise a rifle to his shoulder and pull the trigger, knowing all the time that the gun was empty."

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The quote in question comes from chapter twenty-one from Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

The quote is spoken by Scout as she watches the jury come into the courtroom to hand down Tom Robinson's verdict.

What happened after that had a dreamlike quality: in a dream I saw the jury return, moving like underwater swimmers, and Judge Taylor's voice came from far away and was tiny. I saw something only a lawyer's child could be expected to see, could be expected to watch for, and it was like watching Atticus walk into the street, raise a rifle to his shoulder and pull the trigger, but watching all the time knowing that the gun was empty.

This is a simile. A simile is a comparison between two things which uses the words "like" or "as" to define the comparison being made.

Therefore, given the quote uses the phrase "it was like watching Atticus," the quote is an example of a simile. The comparison being made is between Atticus with an empty gun in the street and the handing down of Tom Robinson's verdict. Scout is explaining that she feels (now in court) the same way she would have felt if Atticus would have gone into the street to shoot the rabid dog with an empty gun.

For Scout, the whole world seemed to stop and change when Atticus shot the rabid dog. Here, Scout is admitting that something is about to change again.

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The use of "like" in the quote signifies that this is a simile.  It is comparing the situation in the courtroom during Tom Robinson's trial to the event that occured earlier in the novel when Atticus shot the dog.  This time the gun is empty, though, and Atticus will not be able to do what he has set out to accomplish.  This comparison shows how futile Atticus' attempt to defend Tom Robinson is.

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