Tuck Everlasting: Figurative Language & Metaphors

Instructor: Sarah Garrett

Sarah has taught secondary English and holds a master's degree in Curriculum & Instruction

'Tuck Everlasting' is a short novel with a magical plot. Throughout the novel, the author uses figurative language and metaphors to create strong images for the reader when describing significant people, places, and concepts.

What Is Figurative Language?

Figurative language, such as similes, metaphors, personification, and irony are often used in literature. This type of language includes figures of speech that are used to describe an experience to a reader in a different fashion than simply relaying facts.

A simile is a comparison of two objects using the words '' like'' or ''as''. A metaphor is also a comparison, but does not use the words '' like'' or ''as''. Personification gives human characteristics to a non-human object. Irony is when the opposite of what is said is what is meant, for example, sarcasm.

Examples in Tuck Everlasting

In Tuck Everlasting the author specifically uses figurative language when describing significant people, places, and concepts. Take for example the first sentence of the novel, ''The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.'' In this sentence there are two examples of figurative language: a simile and personification.

The first week of August being compared to a Ferris wheel is a simile. This sentence also seems to treat the first week of August like a person, as it calls to mind a person on a carnival ride. This is an example of personification. Using figurative language helps the reader imagine the scene more clearly, which is important, because the first week of August and the concept of a wheel are central to the entire novel.

Comparing the first week of August to a Ferris wheel is an example of a simile
ferris wheel


The author uses figurative language, most often similes, throughout the novel. When describing the spring water that makes the drinker immortal, the author uses a simile because this water proves extremely significant. The novel states that if it were to be discovered, ''...that would have been a disaster so immense that this old weary earth...would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin.'' This simile gives the reader a vivid image and helps keep the spring in mind as the book progresses.

Another simile is used to describe the significant character of the man in the yellow suit. The novel states, '' But at the same time he had a kind of grace, like a well-handled marionette.'' This image of a marionette, a puppet controlled by strings, clues the reader in to the man in the yellow suit being controlled by something. But what exactly is it?

More Similes

A simile is also used when describing the Tuck house. The author describes, ''An ancient green-plush sofa lolled alone in the center, like yet another mossy fallen log...three armchairs and an elderly rocker stood about aimlessly, like strangers at a party, ignoring each other.'' The difference between the Tuck home and Winnie's home is significant to the novel. These similes help the reader notice this difference.

Later in the novel, after Mae is arrested, Winnie is sitting in her room, looking out of the window, and notices heat lightning. She remarks, ''Heat Lightning. Again and again it throbbed, without a sound. It was like pain, she thought. And suddenly she longed for a thunderstorm.'' This image and it leading to Winnie thinking about a thunderstorm is important, because later, a storm does come.

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