What literary devices are found in Chapter 20 of To Kill A Mockingbird?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Metaphor: Scout uses a metaphor by describing Dolphus Raymond's fascinating life and Tom Robinson's exciting trial as a "fire." Witnessing both situations will entertain Scout and provide her additional perspective on life. Similar to a fire, both choices are illuminating and interesting to watch. Scout says, "Between two fires, I could not decide which I wanted to jump into: Mr. Raymond or the 5th Judicial Circuit Court" (Lee, 205).

Personification: Scout personifies Atticus's collar button and writing utensils when she attributes a human characteristic to the inanimate objects by saying, "...I saw his gold collar button and the tips of his pen and pencil winking in the light" (Lee, 206).

Idiom/Simile: Atticus uses the idiom, "simple as black and white" to describe the simplicity of Tom's case. His comparison uses the word "as," which also makes his comment a simile.

Anaphora: When Atticus begins to describe the "evil assumption," he uses an anaphora, which is the repetition of a phrase at the beginning of a sentence used for artistic effect and emphasis. Atticus says, "the evil assumption—that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with minds of their caliber" (Lee, 208).

Simile: Atticus uses a simile to compare the lie concerning the "evil assumption" to Tom's skin color by saying, "...we know is in itself a lie as black as Tom Robinson’s skin..." (Lee, 208).

Allusion: Atticus alludes to the Declaration of Independence by mentioning its author and an important phrase in the document. Atticus says, "Thomas Jefferson once said that all men are created equal, a phrase that the Yankees and the distaff side of the Executive branch in Washington are fond of hurling at us" (Lee, 208).

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Below are several examples of various literary devices found in Chapter 20 of Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

ALLUSION & METAPHOR.  During his final summation in the Tom Robinson trial, Atticus makes a statement that can serve as both an allusion and a metaphor: "... a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein."

ALLEGORY.  Much of Atticus's summation would qualify as an allegory, especially the paragraph concerning the "integrity of our courts and in the jury system--"

SIMILE.  Atticus compares a falsehood to a Negro's skin: "... a lie as black as Tom Robinson's skin."

SYMBOLISM.  When Atticus removes his coat and loosens his tie, he is ridding himself of the symbols of authority, reducing himsef deliberately to the status of the common man--the men of the jury to whom he is addressing.

PERSONIFICATION.  The Coca-Cola is given human characteristics when Dolphus Raymond tells Dill to "Take a good sip, it'll quieten you." Atticus's busy briefcase takes a breather as "it rested beside his chair."

PERSONA.  Dolphus Raymond has created an alternate version of himself, the supposedly misguided, drunken man who drinks from a bottle in a sack, weaving and staggering and living with the Negroes. In fact, he is sober and quite clear-thinking.

IRONY.  Atticus points out the irony of Bob Ewell swearing out a warrant with his left hand (Atticus had previously proved that a left hand had struck Mayella, and Tom's left hand was crippled) while Tom Robinson took "the oath with the only good hand which he possesses--his right hand."

HAMARTIA.  Tom Robinson's classic flaw was that he had the nerve to "feel sorry" for a white woman.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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