There are many literary elements in this short story. The following is a sampling of some various types:
Allusion: Shirley Temple was a pop culture darling in the late 1930s. Her adorable curls and innocent spunk were widely adored. In this story, the narrator's mother believes that she can be a "Chinese Shirley Temple."
Simile: And she also did a fancy sweep of a curtsy, so that the fluffy skirt of her white dress cascaded to the floor like petals of a large carnation.
The white dress of this prodigy is compared to the petals of a white carnation, which also symbolizes innocence. The imagery and symbolism is then transferred to the hopes of Jing-Mei's mother for her daughter.
Hyperbole: And now I realized how many people were in the audience—the whole world, it seemed.
The entire world isn't awaiting her performance, but it feels to Jing-Mei as if an enormous crowd has gathered, which is undoubtedly amplified because of her lack of preparation.
Juxtaposition: The two songs that Jing-Mei notices...
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