Simile (3) - RHETGRICAL DEVICES 41 A Handbook and...

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Unformatted text preview: RHETGRICAL DEVICES: 41 A Handbook and Activilies for Student Writers A good slmile is like a clean window looking in to the mind of the writer. A simiie is a device in which the writer compares two things that are already somewhat related.‘For example, if you wanted to describe how the sun lit up a mountain, rather than write. “The sun lit up the mountain," it might sound better to use a simile: "The sun peered, like a curious child, over the top of the mountain. " Since similes conjure up strongly suggestive imagery, they lend new details to the main object. The simiie, one of the more easily recognized rhetorical devices, consists of one noun being compared to another noon and linked by the word “like." The basic form has the key subject first, and the noun that fleshes it out listed second. Example #1: "The shower room, steamy like a Louisiana summer, rang with the athletes' jubilant laughter. " A simile might also flip this order around, with the primary noun coming last. In this case the word “so" is usually used instead of “like.” Example #2: “The night is gentle and quiet; so, too, is my love for her. " A simile can also compare two entire phrases, or compare two verbs, in which case the word “as” is used to link them. as in the third example. Example #3: “You should sing tonight as a bird in spring, callingfor its mate." As well as being linked to each other because one thing is like the other, a simile can also connect two things that are barely similar to one another. By pointing out that something is not like, or is unlike, something else, you can tell your reader a great deal about it. You can also use a negative simile to connect two things that are actually nothing alike—and keep your credibility by pointing out they are nothing alike; this technique will still link the items in your reader's mind. 42 POPULAR RHETORICAL DEVICES' STRATEGY Simile Example #4: “The workday of an Emergency Medical Technician is not at all like the day of a nine-to-five office-dweller. " This sirnile indicates that the differences in the twojobs are greater than the one similarity of them both being daily jobs. Example #5: “Certainly, we know that high school is not like prison, and a principal is not a warden. " This simile. however, forces the reader to focus on the similarities between a jail and a school, rather than on the differences between them. While the simile has many stylistic uses, its strategic value should not be underestimated. The ability to create images and new associations in your reader's mind is an important one, and the simile offers an easy way to do just this. Similes are common enough that they don’t break the flow of your essay. but have enough flexibility that you can make them do virtually anything you need them to do. Exercise 1: The simile appears frequently in poetry. but is common in all types of writing. both formal and informal. Using any type of writing you encounter, identify and list examples of simile usage. Then. explain your interpretation of the writer’s intent. The first one has been done for you as an example. 1. Simile: “Its a sad, sad state of affairs when Liberals campaign like Republicans to get elected, and Republicans govern like Liberals to be loved. " Source: Texas Governor Rick Perry Interpretation: Members of both political parties have compromised on party principles for the sake of their political careers. RiiETORlCAL DEVICES . 43 A Handbook and Activities for Student Writers ' 2. Simile: Source: Interpretation: 3. SimiIe: Source: Interpretation: 4. Simile: Source: Interpretation: 5. Simile: Source: Interpretation: Exercise 2: Create 5 sentences with simiies linking the two parts with the word “so." as we did in example #2. Tliefirst one has been doneforyou as an example. I. "Sugar is sweet, and so are you. " 44 POPULAR RHETORICAL DEVICES: STRATEGY Sim”: Exercise 3: ———————______________ Using the word “as," create 5 sentences as we did in example #3. Tliefirst one has been done for you as an example. 1. "Your words slice my heart as diamonds cut glass. " Exercise 4: —-—————____________ Follow the directions for each ofthe following scenarios. Use at least 1 simile for each answer. and underline them. The first one has been done for you as an example. 1. Imagine you are on the beach during a tropical storm. Describe the movement of the waves as they come ashore. The waves pound the share like furious horses golloging into battle. F—————-I_ RHETDRICAL DEVICES 45 A Handbook and Activities for Student Writers 2. Think of your favorite meal. Describe the appearance, taste, texture, and] or smell of the dish in at least three sentences. 3. Think of a time that you won something—a game, a prize. a bet. etc—r and try to remember how you felt. Now describe your feelings in one sentence. .4. Imagine you are visiting a farm. Think of the animals, erups, and other items that might surround you. Describe your vision of the farm in four sentences. 5. Who is your best friend? Think of the qualities that make him or her special, and describe them in at least two sentences. Like a stained glass window, the simile sheds light and color on a piece of writing. We've already gone over the strategic value of the simile in evoking nuance, but the simlle's real value is in its stylistic grace. Simlles have the potential to shock and impress us by drawing comparisons we wouldn't have thought of, but which are so eloquent they cannot be ignored. There is no reason you should limit your use of a simile to either a '- strategic or stylistic purpose. The best similes will both advance your cause 1 and be beautiful in their own right. For example, “Parents are like angels, watching over us in our times of need. " While there is nothing wrong with creating a simile just for the sake of form, it is always worth considering how you can tweak it to make it serve a greater function at the same time. For example. “Loneliness is like the barren tree in winter, awaiting spring. " When creating a slmile, a great deal of the style comes from the comparison’s unique nature. Present a simile that is too common, and it will land flat and make you seem uninspired. The best similes surprise, while also seeming natural. In the beginning though, it may help you to fall back on cliched similes you are familiar with, changing them slightly to add a bit of the unexpected. such as. “Innocent as a newborn baby. " Consider how this phrase might be changed: “Innocent as a newborn kitten "; ‘makward as a newborn baby"; "Funny as a toddler's first steps. " Exercise 5: Write 6 original similes. Remember that the simile is not only a way to clarify an idea and imply a value or quality that is difficult to express, but it is also a way to surprise and delight your reader. For 3 of them, you may take a cliche and state it in a different way similar to, “Innocent as a newborn baby. " The first one has been done for you as an example. I. As angry as a bear in a trap, the patient glowerea’ at the committee of doctors. RHEEDRICAL DEVICES: 4? A Handbook and Activities for Student Writers Exercise 6: - Wnte 2 smiles for each of the followmg toplcs. The first one has been done for you as an example. I. a chain-link fence A. The chain-link fence enclosed the playground like a giant nerfar children. 2. the cries of an infant A. 3. a tennis ball A. 4. a credit card A. 5. ice cream A. L ._I- ._huh‘.."\_. -_-.-u-_— —— '— 48 POPULAR RHHoRICAL DEVICES: STRATEGY Simile The good, old, reliable simile is like the friend you haven't called in a year, but who'll be the first to show up at your birthday party. Similes can be a bit tricky to see because they can compare myriad different parts of Speech, phrases, or clauses. and. in some cases, longer sentences. The most common form of a simile is comparing one noun to another, as in. “The sun is like a giant burning ball, " or comparing one noun to a longer noun phrase, as in. “The sun is like a trillion nuclear bombs going off or once, every second of every day. ” In this common usage, the word “like" should be your cue that what you're seeing is a simile. Verbs might also be compared to one another. using the word “as" to link them, as in, “I slept calmly, as a sparrow finding shelter from the storm. " Not all similes are linked by “as” or “like"—in some circumstances other words might link them, and in others the “like" or “as" will be implied. Keep your eyes open for these key words, but also be on a more general lookout for sentences in which an object is compared in a somewhat abstract way to something else. For example. “When you hear the word ‘conmrittee,’ you think of a dinosaur: a huge lumbering beast destined to eventually go extinct. ” Similes also take a negative approach. saying how something is unlike something else. They might also compare the two things, saying how one thing is more than or less than something else. Example #1: “The Philadelphia Phillies have less chance of winning a World Series than a plow horse has of winning the Kentucky Derby. " Example #2: "The man '5 joy at finding his wallet was no less than a lottery winner's claiming her prize." When you do find a simile, first try to determine whether it's being used purely for a stylistic purpose. if the comparison seems to have no bearing on the meaning of either item, this is probably the case. If there seems to be more going on, however, look a little bit deeper to get as much value as possible from the simile. Think about what comparisons the writer is most likely trying to get you to make by linking the two items, and think about how this changes your understanding or evaluation of the ideas being compared. RHHORICAL DEVICES: 49 A Handbook and Activities for Student Writers Example #3: “The sub-committee, like a child afraid of jumping into a cold swimming pool, did nothing throughout the 19805." Example #4: "We pushed forward through impossible odds, as camels push ever on through the deep desert." Exercise 7: For each group of sentences, identify the letter of the one that is not a simile. In addition, some are different rhetorical devices. If so. identify these. The first one has been done for you as an example. 1. A. The horse galloped a million miles an hour. _; B. The horse galloped as swift as a jet plane flies. :‘5 C. The horse galloped like a Kentucky Derby winner. if: A. THIS IS A use or HYPERBOLE. E‘ 'i! 2. i A. The waves rolled to shore like a slinky—back and forth. back and i5?” forth. r B. Ocean water tastes like salt. C. We rode the waves as the day went on. 3. A. This computer is as useless as a headless hammer. B. Our computer is not less than two years old. C. That computer functions no better than a typewriter. 4. A. Her hair, as golden as the sun. blew into her face. i B. Her hair was as tangled as a rat‘s nest. 33‘ C. Her hair, a dirty mop, covered her eyes. ' ...- . -_.. . 50 POPULAR RHEI‘ORICAL DEVICES! STRATEGY Similc 5. A. GaZpacho, a tomato-based soup, is served ice cold. B. Gazpacho is not like Campbell's tomato soup. C Some varieties of gaZpacho resemble salsa. 6. A. The dancer moved like a floWer in a springtime breeze. B. The graceful dancer. a butterfly in flight. captivated the audience. C The dancer was as flexible as a rubber band. Recognizing a clever simile is like reuniting with an old friend. A carefully chosen simile can do more than clarify a concept for the reader: it can also create shades of meaning. For example, look at this sentence: “I'm not sure why her tears were like a river. " if the sentence used angry or jealous tears or the river were fiirious or slow, the entire meaning of the sentence would be altered; it is important. therefore, to be mindful of word choices when simile is involved. A well-written simile will both clarify a point and strike the reader as stylistically elegant and beautiful. A writer's originality can also bejudged by the type of similes he or she uses. Cliche’d or trite similes suggest a less- developed writer who is not comfortable with exploring the depths of the language. while unusual similes often strengthen the sentence and impress the reader. When you see a simile, consider the form it takes. and whether or not it strikes you as natural and flowing, rather than forced or difficult to understand. Example #1: “The mind is like a fertile garden and fine art the seeds of wildflowers for it. " Note that the word “like" does not need to be repeated in order to sustain the simile. Example #2: "He traveled quickly, as a horse with no rider would." In this ambiguous simile, the reader is left to wonder ifan empty horse will ride in a direct route or in a wandering manner. RIIE‘IORICAL DEVICES: 51 A Handbook and Activities for Student Writers Example #3: "Your absence goes through me like thread through a needle. " What does this simile actually mean? Is the absence unfelt, easy to deal with, tiny, “what"? Thread is placed in the eye of the needle, and is then used to sew. so the simile, by itself. makes no sense. ...
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