What literary devices are used in How the García Girls Lost Their Accents?

Literary devices are used in How the García Girls Lost Their Accents include metaphor, simile, and allusion. The title itself is a metaphor that compares language to identity. One simile is “like the rumble of distant thunder.” Allusion appears in a reference to an American poem about a raven.

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In How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, some prominently featured literary devices pertain to language. The title itself is a metaphor, a direct comparison of unlike things for effect. Author Julia Alvarez uses it as an extended metaphor, or conceit, in equating language and identity throughout the novel. Losing their accents stands for loss of Dominican identity, and by extension speaking unaccented English represents embracing American identity.

Another literary device that Alvarez often employs is simile, a comparison of unlike things for effect using “like” or “as.” One example that also pertains to language and identity appears in relation to Yolanda’s recovery from a mental breakdown. As she begins to speak English again, a simile using like compares the sounds she makes to thunder:

The words tumble out, making a sound like the rumble of distant thunder, taking shape, depth, and substance. Yo continues: "Doc, rock, smock, luck," so many words.

This example also uses rhyme, the repetition of the final sound in two or more words.

The comparison of words emerging from her throat builds on images established when Yo begins to experience hallucinations related to language. The relevant passages include both similes and metaphors. The uncontrollable sensations seem to be bird wings that are also compared to a fan:

Yo … feels ticklish wings unfolding like a fan at the base of her throat. They spread her mouth open as if she were screaming a name out over a great distance. A huge, black bird springs out; it perches on her bureau, looking just like the raven in Yo’s first English poetry book.

This passage also uses allusion, a reference to an event, a person, or a literary work. Here, Yo references Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven.”

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