Is personification and metaphor used in 'The Chocolate War'?

Expert Answers
katrodrig eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both personification and metaphor are used in The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. Personification and similes are types of metaphor. A metaphor directly compares an object to another object or action. Unlike similes, direct metaphors do not use "like" or "as."

With personification the object is being compared to a human, or the object is being given the traits and qualities of humans.

Below are some examples of metaphor (and simile) specifically from The Chocolate War:

“The coach looked like an old gangster: broken nose, a scar on his cheek like a stitched shoestring” (6). This is a simile that compares the coach’s appearance to that of an old gangster.

“Obie closed the notebook as if he were lowering a coffin lid” (14). In this simile Obie’s notebook is being compared to a coffin lid, because both Obie’s notebook and a coffin lid symbolize things that have been finalized.

“He was aware of the other players around him, helmeted and grotesque, creatures from an unknown world” (14). This example is a metaphor (it does not use "like" or "as") that is comparing the football players to aliens, or some other unknown creatures.

“A waterfall of blond hair splashed on her bare shoulders” (17). This is another example of metaphor (no "like" or "as") that compares the way the girl’s hair falls down her back to a waterfall.

Examples of personification from the story:

“Pain isn’t just one thing—it is cunning and vicious, sharp here and sickening there…” (4). In this example Cormier is stating that pain is vicious and cunning, which shows a comparison between pain and an individual who is vicious and cunning.

“The wind rose, kicking puffs of dust from the football field” (13). The wind is being given human characteristics in that it is being described as kicking the dust. Wind does not have legs; therefore, this is personification that is comparing the wind to a human kicking dust.

mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Actually, simile and personification are types of metaphors, as they make comparisons and analogies between things.  So, if you've found a simile, you've found a type of metaphor.  So, "Jerry walked to the bus like a sleepwalker" is both simile and, technically, metaphor.

Here are others:

On page 24 in my paperback edition:

"Silence fell.  The school was hushed around them..."

This is personification, as it is giving human qualities and actions to inanimate objects, "silence" and "school."

On page 9:

"A strange happiness invaded him."

Here, "happiness" is personified like a ghost inhabiting a host or an army infiltrating a territory.

For metaphor, again on page 9:

"His knees were liquid and his body light as air."

Here's two similes, comparing knees to liquid and body weight to air.

ambereby94 | Student

Before searching for examples of personification and metaphor in the text, let's clearly define them, so we know what we are looking for. Personification and metaphor are types of figurative language, which means they have a figurative or imaginary meaning rather than a literal, factual one. Authors use figurative language to emphasize a feeling, emotion, or other specific idea from the text.

Personification: When the author gives human qualities to something nonhuman.

Metaphor: A comparison between two different things without using like or as.

An example from the text of a metaphor is: "As Jerry took another deep breath, a pain appeared, distant, small--a radar signal of distress. Bleep, I'm here. Pain" (5).

Here the author compares Jerry's pain with a boat's signal to explain how intense his pain felt.

Due to the use of descriptive language by the author of the text, you'll likely find more examples of these specific types of figurative language.