Word count: 292 words
Reading time: Just over 1 minute
I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. Today’s comes from Sara Hope Anderson.
Sometimes, sustained metaphors can become tiresome. Do you know what I mean? Here’s an example of one that I really don’t like:
The teacher descended upon the exams, sank his talons into their pages, ripped the answers to shreds, and then, perching in his chair, began to digest.
Comparing a teacher to a raptor has a small amount of potential — but not enough to capture my attention for all of this rather long sentence. As well, the image seems to draw the attention to the writer rather than the writing. I start to wonder about the types of really bad teachers the writer must have experienced in order for this negative image to spring to mind.
On the other hand, sometimes sustained metaphors seem just right. Here is one I discovered in an April 20 New York Times column from Sarah Hope Anderson who had lost her job:
I was initially confident that the loss of my job was just an unpleasant drizzle on my career parade. I didn’t know it would be more like a hailstorm of epic proportions, that I should have built a bunker, lined it with résumé paper, and fortified myself to endure the months and months of the unemployment onslaught.
I like her use of the word “drizzle” to set up the metaphor. A drizzle is something small, inconsequential and easily overcome. A hailstorm, on the other hand, is frightening, relentless and sometimes even lethal. I also like the way she lines her bunker with résumé paper — an amusing image precisely because it is so unrealistic.