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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