Figurative Language In John Gardner's Nickel Mountain

Superior Essays
The first chapter of John Gardner 's novel, Nickel Mountain, introduces the readers to the depressed, lonely life of Henry Soames, the owner of an unsuccessful convenience store. This chapter shows readers how Soames copes with the emotional and physical conflict of living a lonely depressed life, with a heart disease. A common theme in this passage is Henry’s inability to cope with his dying heart and grotesque physical appearance in order to escape his hopeless, deteriorating state of mind. Henry 's physical and mental attributes are characterized using setting, diction and syntax, and figurative language.
The winter setting maintained throughout the passage characterizes Henry by showing a reflection of his innermost thoughts and outermost
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The author states, “At last, he would sink down on the bed and would lie there solid as a mountain, moving only his nose and lips a little, troubled by dreams.” (Gardener 1). Comparing Henry to a mountain, burdened to stay in the same place for the rest of time, shows that Henry feels he is so tied down by his disease that it would be impossible to escape it. This also explains why Henry often feels hopeless, or that his life is not headed in any particular direction. Throughout the passage, the reader is told that Henry looks out the window three times. The repeated action of him looking out the window shows how much the raging storm outside occupies his thoughts. “On windy nights the snow hurtled down through the mountains darkness…” (Gardener 1).The storm is a symbol for the rage inside his head and looking out the window may be Henry simply staring into his own soul, unable to face his issues. Mr. Kuzitski is a symbol for Henry’s attempt, and failure, to cope with his disease. The fact that Henry is able to reveal the emotional and physical details of his disease to a stranger, such as Mr. Kuzitski, shows just how desperate Henry is for companionship and trust. When Henry emotionally breaks down Mr. Kuzitski says, “‘I promise you, I’ll mention this to no one,”’ (Gardener 2) but he does not keep the secret, and this broken trust becomes a symbol for Henry’s …show more content…
Kevin Drzakowski, from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, states “Literary study expands our capacity to sympathize with other human beings, enhances our ability to see and imagine human complexity, and broadens our intellectual horizons by enlarging our power to experience life vicariously. “. I believe Nickel Mountain, accomplishes this due to John Gardener’s uncanny ability to create Henry Soames; a complex character living with internal and external conflict. From the start Soames is shown as a depressed man that is basically living in solitude because he is seen as an outcast due to his vulgar outward appearance. His “grotesque” appearance is simultaneously giving Soames a heart disease, making him feel alone and neglected within his own mind and body as well. But, I think Nickel Mountain is of literary value because Gardener makes the reader explore Henry’s mental and emotional state to discover his complexity and realize the theme of the novel. His depression is not simply explained, but expressed through Henry’s own experiences. For example, instead of simply stating what Henry is feeling, the author described him looking out a window into an isolated, stormy world, representative of his own lonely, chaotic existence. As opposed to giving away Henry’s emotions from the starting by saying

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