"Inland Passage" and Other Stories Metaphors and Similes
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Written by Timothy Sexton
Opening Line ("Joy")
Opening lines are popular locations for the use of metaphorical language. The symbolism can foreshadow the story’s theme while the literal elements can provide narrative context:
“I’m divorced and Derek’s never been married, but this isn’t a story about us so much as it is a story about Joy, who has by now acted out so many of our uncommitted errors that she is the only plot of our otherwise static relationship, if it can be called a relationship at all”
Another effective use of metaphor is to give additional weight to the emotional resonance of a scene that is otherwise mundane. The commonplace act of carving a leg of lamb is here revealed to be a more intense than one would suspect:
“He did not feel reduced so much as relieved, as if the whole weight of the evening no longer rested on his reluctant shoulders, and maybe, if he watched carefully enough George’s aging, deft hands, he might learn to carve a leg of lamb himself.”
Extending the Metaphor
A metaphor can become doubly effective by stretching it across more than image or connecting it between sentences. Notice how this example combines the images of being nourished, being passionate, the sun as life-giving and heat with burning to make the intensify and expand the central metaphorical concept:
“So many people seem to draw their nourishment directly from passion as plants take nourishment directly from the sun. I have been only badly burned by such heat.”
"Mighty Mouse Fantasies"
In the title story, this phrase becomes a recurring motif serving a metaphor for leading a double life: the one that is your normal outward personality and the one that allows for your private fantasies to be thought of as your normal outward personality.
While there is no hard and fast rule for such things nor even any statistical factual research to use as evidence or offer an explanation, the more one reads the more anecdotal evidence they will confront that “darkness” may very possible be the single most utilized metaphor post-19th century fiction:
“They were insured. Even the house was insured. But surrounding these reasonable thoughts, threatening to engulf them was the darkness.”
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"Inland Passage" and Other Stories essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of "Inland Passage" and Other Stories by Jane Rule.