Figurative Language in 'The Rudy Elmenhurst Story'

Seminar Paper, 2009

15 Pages, Grade: 1,0

Anne Kürschner (Author)


table of contents

1. Introduction

2. What makes a short story?
2.1 Variations on figurative language
2.1.1 Metaphor
2.1.2 Simile
2.1.3 Symbol

3. Summary of The Rudy Elmenhurst Story

4. Figurative language in The Rudy Elmenhurst Story
4.1 The readers’ reactions
4.2 Pencil
4.3 Bottle of wine
4.4 Writing poems
4.5 Conclusion

5. Final remarks

6. References

1. Introduction

This paper provides an overview of crucial features of a short story and explores the importance, necessity and advantages of variations on figurative language in short stories. The most three common features are metaphor, simile and symbol. The outline is linked to the theoretical knowledge.

This paper explores which variation on figurative language the author of The Rudy Elmenhurst Story applied. Therefore, the story is used as an example to show the usage and significance. Furthermore, aspects of the interpretation of The Rudy Elmenhurst Story are linked to my group’s presentation. During our presentation all course students participated very well and gave us a number of ideas we had not yet thought about. Due to the various interpretations that appeared in the discussion, I decided to write a detailed summary of the short story and handed it to some family members and friends to collect different ideas. The summary and the readers’ reactions can also be found in this paper.

The short story is part of the book How the Garc í a girls lost their accents which was written by Julia Alvarez who is an American ethnic short story writer. In order to provide some information about her and to gain a better understanding of her thoughts and intentions, it is interesting to know what her preferred themes are. Her subject matters often include the loss of one's culture and mother tongue, human experience and existence (cf. Walker 1997: Major Themes), familial relationships, political commentaries, assimilation and self-identity (cf. n/a: Introduction).

2. What makes a short story?

2.1 Variations on figurative language

Figurative language means to me that for instance words or specific actions are taken out of their correct meaning. Instead, they are used to express something else. This generates an effect which the author intends, that is to raise the reader’s interest. In my opinion, it is the usage and strength of figurative language that gives a short story its power, as it creates images in the reader’s mind. I will now present three variations, which are commonly used by authors of all kind.

2.1.1 Metaphor

Unexpectedly, I could not find a pleasing definition of a metaphor. For that reason I tried to develop my own explanation. A metaphor is a visual expression. One word denotes for example an object or person and therefore indirectly establishes a comparison. Metaphors are usually - but not exclusively - nouns. A well-known example is the expression ‘life is a journey’. Another example is ‘to break the ice’. The verb ‘break’ loses its literal meaning. The consequence is that the meaning changes: to overcome an initial shyness.

2.1.2 Simile

A simile is easy to recognize, as it is announced by like or as. It goes far ‘beyond mere description’ and ‘enlarges our understanding’ (Bailey 2000: p.69). Bailey also states that ‘When simile is done well, it feels true - the comparison drawn by like or as adds, enlightens, resonates, a believable connection.’ Something existing in the story is therefore compared to something else. The reader’s attention is drawn to the simile and leads him or her to a deeper connection (Bailey 2000: p.69). There are some similes used in everyday language as well, for instance ‘to be as proud as a peacock’. Due to the simile the expression is more meaningful and precise. In love poems I have often read the phrase she is/was ‘like a rose’, which probably in most cases means she is beautiful and special. A simile can easily be changed into a metaphor, simply by replacing like or as with the verb is.

2.1.3 Symbol

‘Symbol differs from simile and metaphor in that a symbol is an object or sign that carries its own weight of meaning.’ (Bailey 2000: p.71). Unlike metaphor and simile, a symbol is not just a single sentence or comparison that transfers meaning and is therefore not obviously indicated. It ‘can also be created inside a story’ (Bailey 2000: p.71), to be precise when for example something is a symbol for influence or change. Well-known symbols are a cross, a flag or any popular car labels. A lion can be a symbol for strength. The night reflects something dark and depressive. Each symbol carries out a specific meaning in the respective context. However, symbols are not always as evidently as the ones above, referring for instance to The Rudy Elmenhurst Story.


Excerpt out of 15 pages


Figurative Language in 'The Rudy Elmenhurst Story'
Karlsruhe University of Education
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
420 KB
Ethnic, short, story, stories, figurative, rudy, elmenhurst, julia, alvarez, metaphor, symbol, simile, language, kurzgeschichte
Quote paper
Anne Kürschner (Author), 2009, Figurative Language in 'The Rudy Elmenhurst Story', Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Figurative Language in 'The Rudy Elmenhurst Story'

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free