What is the figure of speech in the following sentence? "I am amazed, because it does fly just like a little bird, flitting up and down and around, higher than I can reach."  

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liesljohnson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This sentence from Chapter 3 of the novel contains a simile: a comparison between two things. The narrator, Max, compares Kevin's toy to a bird. By describing how the ornithopter (mechanical bird toy) truly seems to move like a real bird, "flying" and "flitting" around, Max is able to express the beautiful, natural movement of the toy.

We can definitely tell that we're look at at a simile because:

  • it compares one visible thing to a second imaginary thing
  • and it contains the word "like."

Similes can contain the word "as" instead of "like." That is, Max could have said instead, "The toy does fly as a bird does" or "The toy flies as high as a bird." Both "as" and "like" get the job done: they let us compare one thing to another thing.

Similes like these are a valuable tool for describing objects, images, and emotions. They help us visualize what's happening in a story. Here, the simile comparing the toy bird to the real bird helps us imagine what Kevin's toy bird looks like, so we feel like we're really there with Max and Kevin in the backyard, watching their friendship begin.