A house without windows…

Word count: 262 words

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. Today I discuss a metaphor that Jill Lepore offers in the New Yorker. 

I didn’t know that Benjamin Franklin had had seven sisters! Somehow, they faded into the dark recesses of history, while the image of their brother continues to adorn the US $100 bill.

Stories of Franklin abound, including ones I’ve cited myself — about how he taught himself to write by copying the works of others. There’s no question that Franlin was a talented guy.

But what about his sisters? Writer Jill Lepore has sought to address this issue by focusing on one sister — Jane — with a new work, Book of Ages, The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. In the July 8 and 15/13 New Yorker, she does something even more interesting. In an essay titled “The Prodigal Daugher,” she  interweaves the death of her own mother and a promise she’d made to her to write a book about Jane. Lepore also provides a subtle and thoughtful reflection on the relationships between parents and children and siblings. (The essay is “locked” but at least you can read the beginning of it.)

Here is one of the metaphors she used that I liked the best:

A one-sided correspondence is a house without windows, a left shoe, a pair of spectacles smashed.

Isn’t that evocative? The metaphor makes me truly feel the loss of Jane Franklin’s letters, which Benjamin had failed to save. It’s hard to know whether to judge him harshly for this or whether to simply write it off to a sad happenstance of history.

Scroll to Top