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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What are similes and metaphors in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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A particularly striking simile can be seen when Scout says that her new teacher, Miss Caroline, looks and smells "like a peppermint drop." This is a wonderful simile, as it highlights just how much Miss Caroline wants to make an impression on her first day in her new job.

She's clearly gone to a lot of trouble sprucing herself up that morning, making sure she smells nice and is dressed immaculately. Such a shame, then, that the fragrant, well-dressed young schoolmarm should have her day ruined by the thriving colony of cooties that lives on Burris Ewell's head.

Then we have this wonderful metaphor, which aptly describes the town of Maycomb:

Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it.

Towns are not human, of course, and so they can't literally be tired. But that's where metaphors come in. By applying the word "tired" to something to which it is not literally applicable—in this case, the town of Maycomb—this metaphor gives us a more than accurate description of what the town is like, especially from the perspective of a young girl like Scout.

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In the first chapter, Scout uses a variety of metaphors and similes and the narrator to help readers relate to the characters.

For example, in describing Dill she says:

"... his hair was snow white and stuck to his head like duckfluff"

The comparison of color to snow white and not just regular white or eggshell white can function as a metaphor. The comparison of his hair to duckfluff is a simile.

In describing Boo Radley, Scout narrates:

"When people's azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them. Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work. Once the town was terrorized by a series of morbid nocturnal events: people's chickens and household pets were found mutilated; although the culprit was Crazy Addie, who eventually drowned himself in Barker's Eddy, people still looked at the Radley Place, unwilling to discard their initial suspicions."

These descriptors of Boo develop an extended metaphor comparing a reclusive man to a terrible phantom.

Of the Radley's pecans that fell into the school yard, Scout compares them to poison in the metaphor:

"Radley pecans would kill you."

Scout used a simile to describe Dill's obsession with the Radley Place. She compared his longing for the place to the ability the moon has to get a shine from water in the dark of night.

"The Radley Place fascinated Dill. In spite of our warnings and explanations it drew him as the moon draws water..."

All of these metaphors and simile are in the first chapter.

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