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Is 'rootless weeds' an example of a figure of speech?If it is,what is it called?

It is from the poem'An Elementary School Classroom In A Slum ' (by Stephen Spender).

'Far far from gusty waves these children's faces. Like rootless weeds, the hair torn around their pallor.

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  • I'm wondering what rootless weeds are. It's useful to have a grip on an intended vehicle in a novel/unconventional metaphor. Feb 13 at 14:58

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Actually, the rhetorical device is a simile, not a metaphor. A metaphor is an equivocation of two unlike things. In a metaphor, one concept/thing represents or takes the place of another (e.g. "the floodgates of my mind" -- "floodgates" operates as a metaphor for the parts of the mind responsible for repressing memories).

A simile, unlike a metaphor, is a comparison of two unlike things. It's also usually accompanied by the words "like" or "as". In this case, the author compares the children's faces to rootless weeds to suggest that their appearance has been disturbed somehow, much like any plant that's been uprooted (can't make an educated guess as to what exactly happened without more context).

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    It's worth mentioning that before the edit the older answer only had ‘rootless weeds’ to work on. But you're right, it is a simile.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 7, 2017 at 21:12
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    Gotcha. In that case, I can see why @icy would've answered as he did. I would have said metaphor as well if there was no "like". Thanks for clarifying!
    – AleksandrH
    Mar 7, 2017 at 21:27
  • No. At ELU level, all similes are metaphors, a subset using 'like' or 'as ... as' etc. So 'John is like a tiger', 'John shares certain characteristics with tigers', 'John is as fierce as a tiger' and 'John is a tiger' are all the same metaphor (same vehicle, and same human referent as tenor); the first three in simile style. Feb 13 at 14:54
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It's probably a metaphor. Do you have a full sentence? Weeds symbolize something unwanted, while 'rootless' evokes the idea of not belonging. If this phrase is used to describe a group of people, then they do not fit in and are unwanted.

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  • It is from the poem'An Elementary School Classroom In A Slum ' (by Stephen Spender). 'Far far from gusty waves these children's faces. Like rootless weeds, the hair torn around their pallor.'
    – user224020
    Mar 7, 2017 at 15:30
  • @Kai please add this relevant information in the question, and not in comments. One day your question might help someone else. P.S comments can be summarily deleted at any time.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 7, 2017 at 17:39

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