Comprehending

APPRECIATING LANGUAGE FEATURES – METAPHOR

One of the goals of the Comprehending Section is to allow students to show off their ability to IDENTIFY language features, EXPLAIN their effects and SHOW AN APPRECIATION of their PURPOSE.

The article “Light of My Life” is written from a father’s point of view (Jamie Troughton) about what it is going to be like in the future when his currently one-year-old daughter begins dating.

It is intended to be light-hearted and comical (TONE).  His PERSPECTIVE comes from his attitude that, “I was a boy once.  I know exactly how they think when it comes to girls!”  Here's the opening of his article:

We are going to look at HOW TO WRITE ANALYTICALLY about metaphors using the lightbulb example above (see red underline).

But first, let’s quickly revisit PARAGRAPH STRUCTURE.

By now, a very wise English teacher will have taught you an acronym such as PEE, TEE, SEE, SEET etc. to remember paragraph structure.

Use this when writing your paragraphs in the Comprehending Section.  No intro or conclusion needed - just rip right into it with a good strong topic sentence.

Here’s how we approach paragraph structure.  If yours is different, that’s perfectly fine.  As long as you’ve got a structured approach 😊

NOW – let’s analyse the LIGHTBULB METAPHOR that Jamie Troughton uses.

Remember, metaphors compare two things – writers use them to help us understand one thing by comparing it to something else they hope we will be familiar with.

The key to analysing metaphors is to IDENTIFY the comparison, EXPLAIN the effect and think about WHY the writer used it (PURPOSE).  While most students can see a metaphor and understand what it's doing, they often don't explain it clearly.

First step:  identify specifically what the metaphor is and what is being compared.

Jamie Troughton chooses to compare his daughter to a light bulb.  Awwwww.  On the other hand, he compares the boys pursuing her to moths.  Woah, unfair!

Next step:  Why?  What’s the point he is wanting to make and is it effective?   Let’s flesh it out:

Notice that the explanation is the largest part of the paragraph.  It’s pretty easy to identify the language feature and then provide a quote.  The hard part is explaining why its effective and linking this to the writer’s purpose.

Being able to analyse language features fully is a valuable skill in the Comprehending Section.  If your not entirely confident in interpreting the text, use words like “the metaphor could be suggesting…..”, “it is possible that the metaphor…..”, “I think the writer uses the metaphor because…”   You are not saying it definitely IS, just offering a possibility.

Remember, you can never be wrong in English – unless your ideas are completely whacko and off the planet, which is highly unlikely!  You just need to JUSTIFY your statements with evidence from the text. 😊

A FINAL DISCLAIMER - we at the ATAR English Hub do NOT think that teenage boys are greasy, sleazy moths!  This is just one man's opinion - but it's a pretty powerful metaphor to make his point and great for us to analyse  🙂

Leave a Reply