There Will Come Soft Rains Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

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What type of figurative language is "it fed upon Picassos and Matisses"?

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When a tree bough falls and breaks through the kitchen window, a container of cleaning chemicals shatters over top of the hot stove, and the kitchen catches fire immediately. The house employs all its defenses against the fire's spread, but once the windows break and the breezes fan the flames, the fire grows and grows out of control. The fire begins to travel up the stairs, too much for the water-spouting rats and walls, and the narrator says that "It fed upon Picassos and Matisses in the upper halls, like delicacies, baking off the oily flesh." In this line, a couple of instances of figurative language crop up. First, the fire is personified (given attributes belonging to a human) as something that can eat, that can feed upon something. Fires, obviously, cannot eat, and so this personification draws attention to how it consumes all it touches. Next, the paintings the fire "eats" are compared to elegant dishes—"delicacies"—perhaps tasty steaks or roast chickens, something with "oily flesh" that can be "baked" by the fire's heat. This is a metaphor, a comparison of two unalike things where one thing is said to be the other.

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