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Metaphor Example from Raymond Chandler

Looking at "The Long Goodbye"


For examples of metaphor in contemporary literature, it's hard to do better than Raymond Chandler, the hard-boiled detective novelist. Cracking The Long Goodbye, I immediately came upon a metaphor example -- or three:
  • "I got the drunk up [the stairs] somehow. He was eager to help but his legs were rubber . . . "
  • "Sooner or later I may figure out why you like being a kept poodle."
  • ". . . his hair was bone white"
The Long Goodbye makes for a particularly interesting study, because many of the novel's metaphors and similes support the major symbols and themes of the book. For instance, the phrase "bone white" is used in describing a character who involves Philip Marlowe in a string of murders. So the word "bone" foreshadows the character's dark role in the novel. (For more examples of how this can work, see the definition of simile.)

See how another writer, Eudora Welty, uses figurative language in handling what could be a sentimental story in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Optimist's Daughter.

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