Yuba City School Figurative Language

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Sometimes, it’s possible to read between the lines without knowing exactly what is being stated in those lines. Take Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s poem “Yuba City School,” for instance. In this poem, Neeraj, a young boy, and his mother have recently immigrated to California from Punjab, India. At his new school, Neeraj’s teacher repeatedly insults and shames him for not understanding English, and it takes its toll. Through the use of figurative language, Divakurani conveys that one does not need to understand what a person is saying word for word in order to comprehend and be affected by what that person’s true message is.
Throughout the poem, Divakaruni uses an extended metaphor to represent the feelings behind Neeraj’s teacher’s words - which, when it comes to him, are always negative. Neeraj internally transforms the words of his teacher into colors and
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The metaphor also replicates his experience in class, where the meanings of words are unclear, but their emotional content and the danger they pose are not. After a while, Neeraj even comes to grasp what the word “idiot” means solely based on the teacher’s “muddy red” tone of voice. Furthermore, there is a reason Neeraj says that the teacher’s words are red in regards to him: red is most often thought of as an angry, frustrated color. It is certainly not a color that is normally used to convey a feeling of happiness or serenity, unlike pink or yellow, which are the colors that the teacher speaks to some of his peers with. This metaphor demonstrates that people are often treated differently based solely on where they come from, and associating words with colors is Neeraj’s way of showing and processing the unfair way in which his teacher treats him. All in all, there is no doubt that despite his language barrier, Neeraj has no trouble perceiving the contempt that his teacher talks to him with or where that contempt stems
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