Girl With a Pearl Earring

by Tracy Chevalier

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What is a literary device that the author used well in Girl With a Pearl Earring? How did it affect her purpose?

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Tracy Chevalier uses a great deal of figurative language in Girl With a Pearl Earring. For example, when Griet meets Pieter, Pieter "looked me over as if I were a plump chicken he was considering roasting" (page 27). This is a simile, a form of figurative language, and it provides the reader with a vivid description of Pieter's gaze. When Griet is describing how, in the past, she had always gone to new places with her family, she says, "The new was woven in with the old, like the darning in a sock" (page 27). This simile uses a comparison of integrating new experiences with old experiences to the way a sock is knit together with old and new threads. It is an effective and vivid way to describe how Griet integrates new experiences into existing ones.  

This type of figurative language is particularly effective when the author is discussing how Griet looks at paintings. For example, Griet thinks, when looking at one of Vermeer's paintings,

"It was like looking at a star in the night sky--if I looked at one directly, I could barely see it, but if I looked from the corner of my eye it became much brighter" (page 37).

It is often difficult for authors to describe how paintings look, and the author's use of figurative language, comparing the appreciation of a painting to looking at the night sky, effectively expresses the wonder and awe that Griet feels as she looks at art for the first time.

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