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Unit 1: short stories. Figurative Language. Figurative language is language that communicates meanings beyond the literal meanings of words. These words are often used to symbolize ideas and concepts they would not otherwise be associated with.

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figurative language
Figurative Language

Figurative language is language that communicates meanings beyond the literal meanings of words. These words are often used to symbolize ideas and concepts they would not otherwise be associated with.

**Writers use figurative language to create effects, to emphasize ideas, and to evoke emotions.**

figure of speech
Figure of speech

Afigure of speech is a form of expression used to convey meaning or heighten effect often by comparing or identifying one thing with another that has a meaning or connotation familiar to the reader or listener.

Figurative language uses figures of speech to convey ideas.

literal vs figurative meaning
Literal vs. figurative meaning

If you’re having trouble understanding what figurative language is, think about this:

  • “I have a pain in my neck” could be literal – you could actually have a pain in your neck.
  • “You’re a pain in my neck” is a figure of speech comparing an annoying person to an actual pain someone feels. This is a metaphor, which is a figure of speech, which falls under the category of figurative language.

Example: His cat bit me on the ankle;

it had teeth like a shark.

afigure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things, using the word “like” or “as”


afigure of speech that makes a comparison between two things that are basically unlike but have something in common (does NOT use “like” or “as” to compare)

Example: Your eyes are stars – they burn so brightly.

extended metaphor
Extended metaphor

afigure of speech that compares two essentially unlike things at some length and in several ways (does NOT use “like” or “as” to compare)

The Cafeteria

The cafeteria is a jungle

Wild animals scrambling for food

Grunting like wild boars

Stampeding to the line

Devouring their prey

Cleaning their paws

and then returning to their dens


afigure of speech in which the truth is exaggerated for emphasis or humorous effect

Example: “I’m so hungry, I could eat a whole elephant!” - Rolly


a figure of speech that creates emphasis by saying less than is actually or literally true (opposite of hyperbole)

Example: “It’s just a flesh wound!”


afigure of speech in which human qualities are given to an object, animal, or idea

Example: The palm trees bowed and danced as the wind grew more and more energetic.


Irony is a special kind of contrast between appearance and reality-usually one in which reality is the opposite of what it seems.

There are 3 types of irony.

situational irony
Situational irony

A contrast between what a reader or character expects and what actually exists or happens

dramatic irony
Dramatic irony

The reader or viewer knows something that a character does not

verbal irony
Verbal irony

Exists when someone knowingly exaggerates or says one thing and means another (sarcasm)

**Understatement can be a form of verbal irony**

protagonist vs antagonist
Protagonist vs. antagonist
  • Protagonist: The main character in a work of literature (the character who is involved in the central conflict of the story)
    • Usually the “good guy,” but not always
  • Antagonist: A principal character or force in opposition to the protagonist
    • Usually the “bad guy,” but not always

A struggle between opposing forces

  • 2 types:
    • Internal Conflict
    • External Conflict
internal conflict
Internal conflict

Man vs. Self

A literary conflict that takes the form of a

character struggling to overcome fear,

addiction, emotional damage, or some other personal issue.

external conflict
External Conflict

Man vs. Man

The most straightforward type of conflict pits the protagonist directly against another character with apparently opposing aims.

Man vs. Nature

This type of conflict pits a story's main character

or characters against a natural force such as a

flood, predatory animal, or disease epidemic.

Man vs. Society

In many stories, the protagonist battles an unjust

element of government or culture.

mood vs tone
Mood vs. tone
  • Mood: The feeling or atmosphere that a writer creates for the reader
    • How does this make ME, the reader, feel?
    • Descriptive words, imagery, and figurative language contribute to the mood, as well as the sound and the rhythm of the language used
  • Tone: The attitude a writer takes toward a subject
    • How does the WRITER feel about this?
    • A writer communicates tone through choice of words and details
    • Some tone words: Serious, humorous, formal, informal, sarcastic, bitter, somber
  • Theme (central idea) is an underlying message about life or human nature that a writer wants the reader to understand.
    • Themes are not usually directly stated. They must be inferred.
    • Theme is NOT just one word, like “love” or “wealth”
      • Crime does not pay, Family is the most important part of life, Love is the worthiest of pursuits, Death is part of the circle of life, Sacrifice yields rewards, etc.
  • Plot: The sequence of events in a story. Plot focuses on a central conflict faced by the main character.
  • A plot typically develops in 5 stages: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution
5 stages of plot
5 stages of plot
  • Exposition: provides background information and introduces the setting and the important characters
  • Rising Action: the conflict develops and becomes more and more intense
  • Climax: the point of maximum interest or tension (usually the turning point in the story)
  • Falling Action: shows the results of whatever happened during the climax
  • Resolution: the end of the story; usually the conflict is resolved

An emotion, desire, physical need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action.(The reason why a character does what he/she does.)

  • Suspense: excitement or tension that readers feel as they wait to find out how a story ends or a conflict is resolved
  • How does an author create it?
    • By raising questions in the reader’s mind about what might happen next
    • Might use flashbacks or foreshadowing
writing assignment
Writing assignment

Write a 1-page suspenseful story based on this picture. What type of conflict will your story include? What are your characters’ motives? What’s the climax and resolution of your story?

  • A pun is a joke that comes from a play on words. It can make use of a word’s multiple meanings or of a word’s sound.
  • Examples:
    • The trampoline was on sale for 50% off. Needless to say I jumped on the offer.
    • The grammarian was very logical. He had a lot of comma sense.
    • The gunman took a shot at new opportunities.
  • Consists of descriptive words and phrases that re-create sensory experiences for the reader.
  • It usually appeals to one or more of the 5 senses.
  • In other words... Imagery is the use of words to create a mental image of something.

The use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities.

What’s a symbol?

A person, place, object, color or activity that stands for something beyond itself

Example: A white dove is a symbol for peace.

point of view

Point of View: the method of narration used in a story

In other words… Who is telling the story?

first person point of view
First Person Point of View
  • The narrator is a character in the story
  • Uses I, me, we, us, my, mine, our, ours


The Scarlet Ibis is written in the first person point of view.

third person point of view
Third person point of view
  • The narrator is NOT a character in the story (the narrator is outside the action)
  • Uses he, she, him, her, them, they, theirs
  • Can be limited or omniscient


The Most Dangerous Game is written in the third person point of view.

limited vs omniscient
Limited vs. omniscient
  • Third Person Limited: The narrator tells what only one character thinks, feels, and observes.
  • Third Person Omniscient: The narrator is all-knowing and can see into all of the characters’ minds.