What literary terms are used in the following excerpt from A Separate Peace? So the war swept over like a wave at the seashore, gathering power and size as it bore on us, overwhelming in its rush,...

What literary terms are used in the following excerpt from A Separate Peace?

So the war swept over like a wave at the seashore, gathering power and size as it bore on us, overwhelming in its rush, seemingly inescapable, and then at the last moment eluded by a word from Phineas; I had simply ducked, that was all, and the wave's concentrated power had hurtled harmlessly overhead, no doubt throwing others roughly up on the beach, but leaving me peaceably treading water as before. I did not stop to think that one wave is inevitably followed by another even larger and more powerful, when the tide is coming in.

This is a paragraph that I have to use to answer the questions. It is found in chapter 8.

Asked on by leh2632

2 Answers

jameadows's profile pic

jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In this passage, the war is compared to a powerful wave in an example of an extended metaphor. The extended metaphor follows the use of a simile, a comparison using "like" or "as," in the first line in which the war is compared to a wave. The extended metaphor is a literary device that involves a comparison that goes on for several sentences; in this case, the wave is likened to war in several ways. The war gathers power as it nears shore, or gets closer to home, and it appears inescapable. However, the narrator, Gene, is able to duck, or avoid the war for the time being, while others are caught up in its swirl. In an example of foreshadowing at the end of the paragraph, the narrator hints at future events--that the war will return to affect him, much as one wave is followed by another. 

The excerpt also features the use of alliteration, which is the repetition of beginning sounds in words that are close together. "Hurtled harmlessly" is an example of alliteration. The excerpt also features assonance, or the repetition of vowel sounds in words that are close together but start with different consonants. An example is "leaving me peaceably." 

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In the above passage from Chapter 8 of John Knowles's A Separate Peace, there are three figurative devices at work:  simile, personification, and extended metaphor.

The simile is the comparison of World War II to a wave with the use of the word like.  

An example of personfication occurs as this wave is able to "throw[ing] others roughly up on the beach," but leaves Gene "peaceably treading water as before." For, with the use of the verb throwing, Knowles gives to the wave powers of a person.

The metaphor of the war being compared to a wave continues at length throughout this passage and is, therefore, considered an extended metaphor

That a war can be compared to a wave is an interesting concept, one that exemplifies Gene's allowing himself to be lulled into his personal delusions about himself, Finny, and the world in which he lives.

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