Figurative language in literature uses various figures of speech to make a piece more effective. A writer might be trying to be more convincing or impactful, so he or she will use figures of speech like similes, metaphors, personification, etc.
Doris Lessing's short story "Through the Tunnel" makes wonderful usage of similes. A simile makes a comparison between two dissimilar things or ideas using the word "like" or "as." The goal is to show readers that a common quality of some kind exists between those two different things. The first simile that readers find in the story appears just after Jerry begins swimming and describes what the ocean floor looked like beneath him as he swam out past where the sandy beach ended:
Where rocks lay like discolored monsters under the surface …
Jerry's vigorous initial swim fatigues him, and he rests out in the open water. While resting, he looks back toward the beach to make sure he can still see his mother. She is a tiny speck underneath an orange umbrella, and readers get a nice simile here too:
There she was, a speck of yellow under an umbrella that looked like a slice of orange peel.
Jerry continues to train and train, and he puts his body through tough scenarios that cause his nose to bleed and completely exhaust him. Lessing uses a simile to give readers a good idea of what Jerry looked like while trying to recover from his exhaustion:
His nose bled so badly that he turned dizzy and had to lie limply over the big rock like a bit of seaweed …
Lessing will also use personification to help create better images for her readers. Personification occurs when an idea or thing is given human attributes. This occurs when Jerry is diving down from the big rock into the blue pool. The boulders are "angry" and "fanged":
He swam back to the big rock, climbed up, and dived into the blue pool among the fanged and angry boulders.