The Twenty-One Balloons

by William Pene du Bois
Start Free Trial

What are the similes, metaphors, and personification in chapters 1 through 5?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A simile is a specific kind of metaphor . It is a comparison that uses "like" or "as" to connect two different objects or ideas. Often, they are somewhat easy to locate and identify because you are clued in to their usage by those two key words. Chapter 2 has...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

A simile is a specific kind of metaphor. It is a comparison that uses "like" or "as" to connect two different objects or ideas. Often, they are somewhat easy to locate and identify because you are clued in to their usage by those two key words. Chapter 2 has a solid simile about five paragraphs in. The narrator is describing to readers what the cupola of the Western American Explorers' Club looks like.

It was shaped like the upper half of the world, from the Equator at its
base to the North Pole at its peal.

A few paragraphs later, readers are told what the loosening of the cupola was like.

The cupola started to loosen somewhat like a tooth does.

Near the end of the same chapter, readers are told about a new type of carriage. The simile given to readers really helps sell the idea that the ride must be unbelievably smooth.

This invention worked like a dream.

The beginning of chapter 3 has a good example of personification when it tells us that the train answers. A moment later, we are told that the train begins to pant.

Chapter 3 also sees the professor describing his balloon and basket. A few metaphors are given to readers that help us picture the shape of things. We are told that the roof of the basket house is shaped in a way that allows it to be "an ideal observation platform." That wasn't the initial intent, but the metaphor helps us picture how flat the roof is. A couple of sentences later, we are told that the basket itself is a "weaver's masterpiece."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I hope you are enjoying this book. It is one of my favorites!  Now, let's look at a few examples of the figurative language you need help with. 

In Chapter III, the red carpet that is to be rolled out for Professor Sherman is "rolled up like a huge jellyroll" (35).  This is a simile because the carpet is being described as "like" something it is not.  Obviously, a carpet is not a jellyroll, but this simile gives us a picture that allows us to see what the carpet looks like when it is rolled up. 

An example of a metaphor in Chapter V is in Mr. F's explanation to Professor Sherman about the effect of taking diamonds off the island. He tells Professor Sherman that this would "cause the diamond market to crash" (74).  Now, a diamond market is a financial market that cannot literally "crash." So this is a metaphor which explains something abstract in terms of something concrete. We can "see" a crash. 

An example of personification may be found in Chapter V, when Professor Sherman is walking with Mr. F. There is volcanic activity on Krakatoa, and Mr. F. is explaining this to Professor Sherman. He tells his audience that the earth begins to shake, "as though this explanation had been a cue for the mountain to perform" (66).  This is personification because the mountain is being described as doing something a person would do, performing, but of course, a mountain cannot perform.

There are many other examples of each literary device in these chapters.  See if you can find some, too.  Good luck! 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team