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Figurative language is language not meant to be taken literally. It is used in To Kill a Mockingbird to describe how prejudice causes blindness and intolerance.
When Jem questions Atticus about the lynch mob that tried to kill Tom Robinson, Atticus responds figuratively, using the metaphor of a blind spot.
"Mr. Cunningham's basically a good man," he said, "he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us." (ch 16)
Atticus figuratively compares Mr. Cunningham’s racism to a blind spot, or an area where a person cannot see. Mr. Cunningham is mostly a good person, he argues, but when it comes to race he is blinded by prejudice that he has learned from the community.
Another example is the incident of Mr. Raymond’s Coca-cola. The children assume, as everyone does, that he is drunk most of the time. He is married to a black woman and lives among the blacks instead of the whites. Mr. Raymond explains why to Scout, Jem, and Dill.
"[It's] mighty helpful to folks. Secretly, Miss Finch, I'm not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that's the way I want to live." (ch 20)
Mr. Raymond uses the metaphor “I live like I do” to explain living a life without racism. Other people cannot understand or appreciate this, so he pretends to be drunk to make it easier for them to accept.
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