Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is rich with literary language that provides beautiful imagery, profound analogies, and meaningful metaphors. Open the book to any page and one can find literary devices ranging from simple similes and extended metaphors to detailed descriptions that appeal to all of the five senses. All of these literary devices help to shape the quality and artistry of the story. The following are some example passages along with descriptions of the literary devices used therein:
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it" (30).
Not only is this passage profound advice, but it uses the sense of sight to create one getting into someone else's skin in order to gain understanding of another person. This is the use of imagery and metaphor that provides a visual of Scout climbing into Walter Cunningham's body to understand him.
"Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the tree-house; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill" (34).
Above are more visual images as well as the employment of the sense of touch, such as sensing the way it feels to sleep outdoors during the summer; the sense of taste by remembering good summer foods to eat; and picturing the colors of summer. This is a great description of summer using multiple images at one time.
"Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets" (46).
This quote is a metaphor that Miss Maudie says to compare Scout's father's behavior at home and in public. By comparing his behavior as the same at home and in public, the reader gets a sense of his good character and example for everyone in the community, not just for the kids.
"Shoot all the blue-jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" (90).
This popular quote shows the use of metaphor as well as foreshadowing. The word "mockingbird" is used in the title to draw attention to this metaphor which is not only used in the literal sense as a rule of what not to shoot, but also as a comparison to Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, and anyone else who is powerless, yet harmless, in the community. The foreshadowing comes into play because of the parallel connection that readers can make between the vulnerability of the birds and that of Tom and Boo.
"Tim Johnson was advancing at a snail's pace, but he was not playing or sniffing foliage. . . We could see him shiver like a horse shedding flies; his jaw opened and shut; he was alist, but he was being pulled gradually toward us" (95).
Finally, this passage about the mad dog has impressive and suspenseful descriptions of the dog going down the street. It also has the simile "shiver like a horse shedding flies" which greatly adds to the visual image of the dog's condition.