As if she would kill the keys…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a simile from Frances Itani.

Frances Itani is a Canadian fiction writer, poet and essayist who has published 14 books. Her 2012 title Remembering the Bones, was shortlisted for a Commonwealth Award.

Her 2004 novel Deafening has already won that award and has been optioned for film. It’s also been sold and translated in 17 countries. Her most recent book, Tell, has been shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

I read an interview with her recently, in the Globe and Mail, and was struck by her use of figurative language, even in a newspaper interview. Here was the expression that grabbed me, when she described her grade 4 teacher from a one-room school in rural Quebec:

This was the same teacher who taught me to sing La Marseillaise, and then pounded the keyboard as if she would kill the keys for letting such a tune out of the piano. 

Having experienced a few teachers like that myself, I found her simile brought a knowing smile to my face. (What’s with teachers who’ve never understood the marking pianissimo? Why does everything need to be such a pitched battle?) Kudos to Itani for being able to recall this teacher, however. I find it remarkable that, after so many years, she’s able to find and apply such a perfectly apt bit of figurative language.

Scroll to Top