The 9th graders and I have been discussing metaphors recently, and, as always for me, it has called forth an appreciation for the astonishing resemblances among all things. Metaphors have been prominent in literature from the earliest writings, partly because of these resemblances – these secret and strange similarities that seem to be interfused through the universe. Indeed, everything, when studied with interest, seems to be somehow similar to everything else, somehow much more like a sister and brother to everything than a stranger. A cast iron pot is like a person’s concern for others, a soft carpet is like a smile, a sky in November is like the lonesomeness we sometimes feel, and a discarded tissue is like anything you please. I’ve been encouraging the students to use metaphors and similes in their essays, perhaps like signals of their individual style and inventiveness, perhaps to point out how things are way more similar than dissimilar, or perhaps just to say to the reader that this special sentence was written with spirit and pleasure, . I’ve also been encouraging them to stretch out for the strangest comparisons, the ones that seem preposterous at first but then slowly shine with a new truth about life. In some small way or other, anything is similar to anything else, and seeing the likenesses among all things is one of the stirring joys in life, including English class.
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