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To Kill a Mockingbird Figurative Language

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Freda Dunston

on 26 January 2014

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Transcript of To Kill a Mockingbird Figurative Language

Figurative Language in
To Kill a Mockingbird

An Idiom
An Idiom is a phrase that means something different than the literal meaning of the individual words.
Here is an example:
Gracie's Romeo took her out to lunch this afternoon.
Allusion Examples
She [Miss Maudie] loved everything that grew in god's earth, even the weeds. With one exception. If she found a blade of nut grass in her yard, it was like the Battle of the Marne: she swooped down upon it with a tin tub and subjected it with blasts from beneath a poisonous substance she said was so powerful it'd kill us all if we didn't stand out of the way.
An allusion is a brief reference to a work of art, such as book, poem, or song, or to a famous place, person, or event. It allows a writer to say much with only a few words.
Euphemisms in
TO Kill a Mockingbird
Identify the
in the following passage from chapter 1 of
To Kill a Mockingbird.
"Many Soldiers killed in battle" is replaced with "heavy casualties."
A euphemism is an expression that replaces a harsh or offensive word or phrase.
A "garbage man" becomes a "sanitation engineer"
is language that uses words and phrases to mean something different from the literal interpretation
"The Haverfords had dispatched Maycomb's leading blacksmith in a misunderstanding arising from the alleged wrongful detention of a mare... They persisted is pleading Not Guilty to first-degree murder, so there was nothing much Atticus could do for his clients except be present at their departure..."
Why do we create euphemisms? Can you think of any other examples?
What kind of relationship does Gracie have with the subject of this sentence?
"Why, one sprig of nut grass can ruin the whole yard. Look here. When it comes fall this dries up and the wind blows it all over Maycomb County." Miss Maudie's face likened such an occurrence unto an Old Testament pestilence.
For example, picture this statement in your mind: "The old man kicked the bucket."
Do you see an old man using his leg to kick a bucket? This is the literal meaning of the statement.
But this statement also contains an
that means something quite different. To "kick the bucket" is an idiom that means to die.
Communicating with Idioms
All cultures develop idioms. You probably say and write them all the time without realizing it.

However, these phrases are very confusing to a person who is beginning to learn English?
Imagine you are talking to a friend from another country and you make the following statements. Why might these statements confuse your friend?
"I'll pick you up at seven o"clock."
"Let's go over our math homework."
"I couldn' t make heads or tails of the lesson today."
"I'll be on the ropes if I don't pass the exam."
"I want to sweep my last test score under the rug."
A symbol is anything that stands for or represents something beyond itself. An author may use a real thing - an object, person, event, etc. - to represent an idea or to communicate a message.

Identifying Symbolism
The repeated use of an object, idea, action, and so forth, is a hint that it is being used symbolically. The mockingbird is a symbol in this novel. It has been mentioned once in the novel so far, but it will be mentioned again. See what you can learn about his symbol as you continue to read.
Looking Beyond the Literal Meaning
Sometimes as you read, you get the sense that something written in a story could have a meaning beyond its literal meaning. When you sense that this is so , look for clues in the story that support that possibility.
For example, look at how Nathaiel Hawthorne describes a prison door in chapter 1 of
The Scarlet Letter:
" ... some fifteen or twenty years after the settlement of the town, the wooden jail was already marked with weatherstains and other indications of age, which gave a yet darker aspect of its beetle-browed and gloomy front. The rust on the ponderous, iron-work of its oaken door looked more antique than any thing else in the new world. Like all that pertains to crime, it seemed never to have known a youthful era. Before this ugly edifice, and between it and the wheel-track of the street, was a grass-plot, much overgrown with ... such unsightly vegetation, which evidently found something congenial in the soil that had so early borne the black flower of civilized society, a prison."
The Maycomb County Courthouse
As you read chapter 16 in
To Kill A Mockingbird
, notice author Harper Lee's description of the Maycomb County Courthouse. It is like Hawthorne's description of the prison door because it has a deeper meaning - it also says something about the people of the town.
An Author creates a literary work with a purpose in mind. A
is based on a central idea in the author's work.

The author of a well-crafted novel will use many aspects of her work to communicate themes. These aspects include the narration, the characters and their dialogue, and the story's action.
Figurative Language
What do these symbols represent? Can you identify other familiar symbols?
Even literary techniques, such as symbolism and figurative language, can be used to support the novel's themes.
This theme can be stated: "To understand other people - to understand their problems and to see them in the best possible light - you need to stand in their shoes and see life through their eyes."
How has Harper Lee communicted this them in the novel?
What other themes can you identify?
To state a theme, write a sentence telling what the author has communicated about a particular idea.
How do these euphemisms affect the tone of the novel?
Themes in To Kill a Mockingbird
One strong, reoccurring idea in this novel is related to compassion.
The literary allusion is to Shakespeare's novel
Romeo & Juliet
What allusions do you find in the following excerpt from To Kill a Mockingbird?
How do you know this?
Full transcript