To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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What are some similes used by Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird and to what do they refer? Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

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mwestwood, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In describing the sick, addicted, and dying Mrs. Dubose, to whom Jem has been given the assignment by Atticus of reading each afternoon, Scout employs original similes, to say the least:

She was horrible.  Her face was the color of a dirty pillowcase, and the corner of her mouth glistened with wet, which inched like a glacier down the deep grooves enclosing her chin.

 notices that Mrs. Dubose's corrections of Jem have become fewer and fewer.  And, something has happened, for only her head and shoulders are visible above her covers.  As her head moves from side to side, Scout sees saliva collecting on her lips:

Her mouth seemed to have a private existence of its own.  It worked separate and apart from the rest of her, out and in, like a clam hole at low tide.

Occasionally it would say, "Pt," like some viscous substance coming to a boil.

 

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One simile I recall is when Aunt Alexandra comes to live with the Finches. She seems to know everything about every family’s history and makes judgments of families often referencing their ancestor’s similar tendencies. She knows the people of Maycomb, fits into the culture effortlessly, almost immediately becomes a part of the Ladies Missionary Society and the Maycomb Amanuensis Club. Scout describes her as seeming as if she had always lived there. The simile used to describe Aunt Alexandra’s transition back into Maycomb life is, “Aunt Alexandra fitted into the world of Maycomb like a hand in a glove, but never into the world of Jem and me.”

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Examples of similes used by Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird:

  • "He was as good as his worst performance."--Scout's description of Dill's acting skills (Chapter 4).
  • "The tire bumped on gravel, skeetered... and popped me like a cork onto pavement."--Scout's description of her tire ride onto the Radley property (Chapter 4).
  • "He's as old as you, nearly."--Scout describing Walter Cunningham as compared to brother Jem (Chapter 3).
  • "She looked and smelled like a peppermint drop."--Scout describing Miss Caroline (Chapter 2). 

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As I look through the book, the first simile that I come to is in Chapter 1.  Here, Scout, as the narrator, is talking about the climate of Maycomb.  She says that ladies are "like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum."  This is, of course, because it is so hot and humid there.

The next simile I come to refers to Dill.  She says that his hair sticks to his head "like duckfluff."

A third simile used by Scout comes in Chapter 2.  The teacher is reading them a long story and the kids are getting bored.  Soon, they are "wriggling like a bucketful of catawba worms."

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