Five Feet Apart

by Rachael Lippincott

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What figurative language in Five Feet Apart explores the themes of love and death?

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Figurative language is prevalent throughout Five Feet Apart. Examples include Stella describing her lungs as "a sea of mucus," and the symbolism of Stella deciding that she and Will should always stay five feet apart, rather than the prescribed six.

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Love, illness, and the threat of death are three prominent themes in Five Feet Apart, which is about two teenagers, Stella and Will, who meet in hospital and fall in love, both while suffering from life-threatening cystic fibrosis.

A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses a word that cannot be literally applied to the situation at hand. For example, early in the story, Stella describes the process of trying to get enough air into her lungs "through the sea of mucus." While the mucus in Stella's lungs is obviously not a sea, the metaphor paints an appropriate picture of Stella's struggle to breathe, and this metaphor helps the reader to understand the challenges that later exist between her and Will.

A great example of a simile can be found when Will is telling the readers about his first impression of Stella, the girl he will fall in love with. He states that her bubbly nature in greeting everyone makes it look "like she's putting on her personal Thanksgiving Day parade." A simile is a comparison that uses the word "like" or "as."

Symbolism is used throughout this novel to explore the theme of love, with Stella's reclaiming of the one foot that means the two must be "five feet apart" at all times symbolizing her rebellion against her disease and everything that it has stolen from her and Will.

Imagery, as the name implies, is text that creates a vivid picture in which the reader can immerse his her her senses. When Will is giving Stella lifesaving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Lippincott refers to the "warm, flowery scent of her perfume." This is a form of imagery designed to ignite the reader's olfactory sense.

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What are some figurative languages or techniques used in the novel Five Feet Apart that explore the ideas of love and death?

Love and death are without a doubt the two most prevalent themes in Five Feet Apart. This poignant story is the tale of two teenagers, Stella and Will, who meet in hospital while they are both fighting life-threatening cystic fibrosis. Stella is hoping to get a lung transplant. Will, unfortunately, has another condition called B. Cepacia, which means that he is not a candidate for a transplant. The only thing that Will has to hope for is a miracle.

One of the most poignant metaphors is one that Stella's late sister, Abby, shares with her when Stella has a near-death experience. She tells her sister that this is not her time to die, but that she will always be "just an inch away." This obviously cannot be true in a physical sense, but metaphorically, this reminds Stella that her sister's memory will never leave her.

Another great example of a metaphor is when Barb, one of the nurses who looks after Stella, tells her that if she picks up a secondary infection by being careless, she can "kiss the possibility of contracting new lungs goodbye." This kiss is obviously not a literal kiss, but Barb's words succinctly remind Stella of what is at stake.

I would argue that Rachael Lippincott's technique of having both Stella and Will narrate parts of the story allows the themes of love and death to be explored in greater depth than if only one of them had told the story. This way, we get a male and female perspective on the ideas of love and death, as well as the perspective of one character who has realistic hope for a future and one who does not.

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