F is for Figurative

Dear 8B,

Words have multiple meanings. Sometimes a word that has a concrete meaning can  be employed in certain contexts in a symbolic or figurative way.

A black night – A black mood – A black heart

For instance, if you write the sentence, “It was a black night”, the word “black” is fairly concrete and limited, assuming that you are describing a dark night with not much moonlight. In the sentence, “She was in a black mood”, however, the word “black” suggests “low” or “pessimistic“. When you place this seemingly simple adjective into the phrase, “He has a black heart”, its meaning mutates once more; in this context it signifies “wicked” or “callous“.

By describing Carl as “a bloated pincushion on sturdy legs”, Moloney emphasises the boy’s vulnerability and sensitivity to the hurtful remarks of others.

In the novel that we are reading, A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove, James Moloney often employs words in a figurative way in order to convey the intense emotions and experiences of his characters. Appreciating his use of imagery will help you to identify and explore the themes and to understand the characters in his novel.

The pictures below show symbols that are frequently used in figurative ways. For instance, we might say that we are offering “the hand of friendship”, that our motives were as “pure as the driven snow” or that a friend has a “fiery temper”. Can you think of a figurative usage for one of these objects or symbols? 

A sword, an island, a chess set, a candle, a pen, a suitcase, an anchor, a lightbulb, a book, snow, a hand, barbed wire – all physical objects with a potentially figurative meaning…

Write a comment in which you explain a possible symbolic meaning for one of these objects OR describe yourself by using a metaphor. James Moloney’s writing includes many moving and sometimes amusing examples that will aid you in employing figurative language yourselves.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

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15 thoughts on “F is for Figurative

  1. I am like an ember. Embers sometimes need extra fuel and guidance to grow stronger and glimmer in the darkness. I can be sensitive and fragile when I’m hurt so it takes time to rekindle trust. When I’m among others, I tend to sparkle most. Even though people try to put me out, I just burn brighter.

  2. I am like a rock over a volcano. Most of the time I’m just lying there with nothing happening. But when someone tries to break me, the volcano explodes and I become a molten rock, burning everything I touch. Then I cool down and lie there being still and calm.

  3. I am like a flower and you, are like the sun. As I warm up to you I begin to open, slowly at first, then faster, until I am fully in bloom. If the sun starts to fade I begin to draw back. When I start closing, it is hard for me to open again. But if the sun stays bright and warm, I remain vibrant and colourful.

  4. I am like a broken arm, weird, twisted and clumsy on the outside but healing on the inside. I am made up from many different smaller bones, each one a part of the whole. Gradually, as I repair on the inside, the outside becomes stronger and straighter.

  5. I am like a game of chess, I like to experiment with pieces and move in different directions. I prefer to try new things and experience different cultures. Despite the criticisms of opponents, I tend to make crazy, outrageous moves, like moving the king early in the game. Sometimes I make wrong moves, but that causes me to discover other options and opens up my eyes to new paths.

  6. I am like a seedling, growing in strength and wisdom. When the wind attempts to conquer my branches, I feel vulnerable and anxious, but I continue to flourish. The gardeners in my life continue to fertilize my roots and protect me from rising storms.

  7. I am like a flashing light bulb. When I switch off and someone tries to turn me back on, I surprise them with an explosion of light, showing that I won’t get pushed around easily. My mind flickers with possibilities and every once in a while I shine at my brightest with electricity and ideas flowing into my mind.

  8. Sometimes, if you look closely enough , you can see the music dancing around my eyes, like fireflies against the night sky. Most of the time, they dance to a fast-paced beat, but sometimes, people attempt to extinguish the glowing insects. They flicker weakly and their wings falter. And yet, no matter how weak they are, they will always find a beat to dance to, for the music is on a continuous loop that will last forever.

  9. I am a dropper from a fluid bottle containing a peculiar chemical that intrigues people – yet sometimes makes them afraid. The fluid in my tube is strangely volatile and unpredictable. Once I have imbibed a fluid, I have an intense desire to know more and learn more. My personality can be altered by the squeezes of the scientists in charge of me; at times I will release the amount instructed, yet at other times I tend to release too much. Occasionally I purposely emit more than my handler desires, merely out of curiosity as to what could happen to my subject. Although I do want to help others, I still aspire to absorb knowledge in my own way.

  10. I’m like weather – not just any weather across the world, but Melbourne weather. That means that I’m sunny and full of joy one minute, rainy and sad the next. Even meteorologists sometimes cannot predict me, for I go at my own pace. Through the sun and rain I create rainbows that many people admire; they tend to overlook the dark grey clouds. As they say, ‘Everyone wants happiness, no one wants pain. But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.’

  11. I am like a video game, fun and amusing at times, but I can also be frustrating to play at other times. Your progress in the game is always improving just like me, for I learn as I go. You can also play online and talk with friends, which means that you can be very social.

  12. I am a big golden nugget that is hidden in the earth, nowhere to be found. I am covered in darkness and soil with no one surrounding me. Yet when I have been dug up and cleaned, my true colours and personality shine bright.

  13. I am like a rock, hard and strong but when I am drenched by water I am weak and vulnerable. I feel as though I am constantly being chipped away, but somehow I find a way to pick myself up and put myself back together and face the pick-axes again. I feel like my own diamond in the rough but covered by my own rubble, as if I should be shining brighter but I am shrouding myself with my own failure. Nevertheless, I still carry on to try and find myself.

  14. She lived her life like the ocean, she was free but lived day after day on repeat, just as the waves roll over calmly in a replicated pattern. At times she was angry, waves crashing, a dark deep colour; yet at other times she was soft and happy, a still beach, filled with colourful shells.

  15. When I wake up in the morning, I feel like a sloth trying to get of bed and get ready for school. I struggle to get breakfast into my stomach fast and try and enjoy some T.V. and then I repeat this process over and over again on each subsequent morning. Sometimes I would just like to stay in my tree for the whole day.

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