Using Figurative Language
Writers use figurative language such as imagery, similes, and metaphors to help the reader visualize and experience events and emotions in a story. Imagery—a word or phrase that refers to sensory experience (sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste)—helps create a physical experience for the reader and adds immediacy to literary language.
Sometimes Anaya describes nature as beautiful and benevolent, while at other times it is frightening and dangerous. This language can reflect a character’s mood or foreshadow events. Anaya especially favors personification, which occurs when a writer attributes a human characteristic to a concept or object:
[Ultima] taught me to listen to the mystery of the groaning earth and to feel complete in the fulfillment of its time. My soul grew under her careful guidance.
I had been afraid of the awful presence of the river, which was the soul of the river. (p. 15)
Here is a vivid image from Antonio’s dream in Chapter Nueve:
I cried into the bleak landscape in which I found myself. And in the swirling smoke a flash of lightning struck and out of the thunder a dark figure stepped forth. (p. 71)
Anaya also uses similes throughout his novel:
A man’s destiny must unfold itself like a flower, with only the sun and the earth and water making it blossom. (p. 223)
What does “groaning earth” convey? How might a curandera view our relationship to the land? Why would Anaya choose to portray the world with human traits?
Search the chapters you have read for vivid images. Write a paragraph using personification, simile, and metaphor to describe one of those images. Read your paragraphs aloud with a partner. Are there recurring examples of figurative language? What deeper meaning does this repetition suggest?
Write one paragraph answering the following question:
How does the dream at the end of Chapter 11 bring Antonio peace?