The Devil In The White City Figurative Language

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Erik Larson is argued to have a difficult time creating realistic details for a book about a time period he could only research about. In The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson uses brilliantly constructed figurative language in order to insightfully display his interpretation of the story (entailing the events of the Chicago World Fair and the serial killer H. H. Holmes) and realistically and informatively describe the details of people, places, and events in the novel.
The first figurative language tool that will be addressed is the simile. The first simile that is used to describe one of the main "characters" of Larson’s novel, Holmes, is “As he moved through the station, the glances of young women fell around him like wind-blown petals”
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An example of this would be “The Black City to the north lay steeped in smoke and garbage, but here in the White City of the fair visitors found clean public bathrooms, pure water, an ambulance service, electric streetlights, and a sewage-processing system that yielded acres of manure for farmers” (247). Larson uses the word “yielded” to describe the “action” of the sewage-processing system. The sewage-processing system is in the mystical and awesomely constructed white city that Larson describes so beautifully and makes it seem so amazing that it has human-like qualities that make it above most everything else. Another descriptive use of personification that Larson uses is “Trains bearing fangs of ice tore through the crossing at Wallace” (147). This section describes a train in wintertime. Larson’s image of the train “bearing fangs” provides the reader with a scary vibe from the train and fits the mood for this chapter (a chapter about Holmes) perfectly with its ominous intentions. This last reference to Larson’s use of personification is a quote by one of Larson’s main "characters", Burnham. It is “‘ Everywhere the best ornamental grounds that we see are those in which vines…. are outwitting the gardener ’” (172). In this passage, Burnham is instructing people to be wary of the vines and weeds in the garden …show more content…
The first passage that will be quoted is a quote by Burnham that says “‘The room was still as death’” (115). This section is symbolic to the many murders that are happening and have happened in Chicago even though Burnham isn’t referring to those murders here. It is very clever on Larson’s part and though the average reader may not catch it, it is still most likely placed in the novel intentionally. For the next example of symbolism is one that Larson uses to describe Holmes’ perceived person. It is “Holmes had promised a bounty of toys and sweets for Pearl, and mor Julia something truly grand, beyond anything she could have ever received from her poor bland Ned” (147). This section is symbolic of how women perceived Holmes as more exciting and magical than the average man, or in this case Ned. It is another crucial description that Larson provides the reader. It allows another reminder of Holmes’ facade. The final demonstration of Larson’s use of symbolism is “ He pulled the stopper from a dark amber bottle of liquid and immediately felt its silvery exhalation in his own nostrils” (148). The description Larson offers of the liquid is the word “dark”. Though simply speaking, this word is an adjective used to describe a hue of something but symbolically, the word dark can be used to describe

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