What types of figurative language are used in "The Pedestrian"?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Pedestrian by Ray Bradury contains a number of examples of figurative language such as simile, imagery, and personification.

Early in the short story as the main character, Leonard Mead, walks the streets of his town early in evening in the year A.D. 2053, Bradbury, metaphorically compares the homes along a street with a graveyard.

And on his way he would see the cottages and homes with their dark windows and it was not unequal to walking through a graveyard where only the faintest glimmers of firefly light appeared in flickers behind the window.

The author is saying as Mead walked the desolate street, he could see the people moving in the houses with the lights in the background. He also uses figurative language when he speaks of the people as “sudden gray phantoms” that he saw in the windows of homes which he describes as being tombstone like buildings; a simile.

As Leonard Mead, continues his walk in the cool, crisp air the author uses another simile.

 There was a good crystal frost in the air it cut the nose and made the lungs blaze like a Christmas tree inside; you could feel the cold light going off and on.

The author uses the simile instead of simply saying the air was cold and it hurt when Mead breathed while he walked. With each breathe he could feel the air cutting into his lungs.

Bradbury uses more simple similes such as “his shadow moving like the shadow of a hawk in the mid-country.” This gives you the picture of Mead, a solitary figure, moving smoothly, down the desolate street. The author uses a simile with the word “unlike” instead of like. “He stood entranced, not unlike a night moth, stunned by the illumination, and then drawn toward it.” The author chose to make a negative comparison.

Imagery is used throughout the short story. The author describes a “metallic voice,” “the smell of riveted steel,” and the car giving “a faint whirring click.” You can hear the squeaky voice, smell the steal, and hear the car as it started with a quiet sound.

Personification is used when the author has Mead talking to the houses. “What is it now? he asked the houses.”

This short story has many more examples of figurative language with the author’s use of similes throughout.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bradbury uses several similes, a comparison that uses "like" or "as," in "The Pedestrian." For example, he writes that Mead was "sending patterns of frosty air before him like the smoke of a cigar." In this simile, Mead's breath is compared to the exhalation of smoke. Later, Bradbury writes, "only his shadow [was] moving like the shadow of a hawk in midcountry." In this striking simile, Mead's shadow is compared to that of a hawk on the ground. The author also uses metaphors, comparisons that do not use "like" or "as" and usually compare two unlike things. For example, he writes of Mead making his way through the empty streets that it "was not unequal to walking through a graveyard where only the faintest glimmers of firefly light appeared in flickers behind the windows." In this metaphor, walking through the deserted town is compared to walking through a graveyard in which only small lights made by bugs are visible.

The author also uses imagery or details that appeal to the senses. For example, he writes of the "rusty smell" of the leaves, an example of imagery that appeals to the reader's sense of smell. Finally, the author uses personification or making inanimate objects animate. For example, he writes that the police car has "its radio throat faintly humming." The author's use of personification is particularly effective in the world of this story, in which only machines, not humans, are apparently in control.