The similes that Thoreau uses to start his passage compare the busy lives we live with seemingly meaningless actions by others. As the ants and the pygmies described by the first sentence in paragraph 2, the motives they seek have a purpose, but out of the group what they do are things which do not benefit themselves in the long run. Yes, they are doing things for a purpose to the ants it is survival while the pygmies of the Greek mythology was to protect their land, they did not capture the pleasure of living. These compares to our actions we do everyday for the benefit of tomorrow. We do not get to enjoy what’s here and now.
The similes in paragraph 2 is that men are like ants and pygmies. Ants and pygmies actions may seem strong but in the end, all these actions have no purpose to them. The actions do not help in any way. This is an example of a person who lives for tomorrow and not for today. The person is wasting a day, but at the same time wishing a day. In the end of the day, these actions will be useless because what if that day was the last chance. The effect of the similes is well-done.
By pairing a simile with each one of his ideas, Thoreau is able to catch his reader’s attention. By having something to compare his ideas to readers are able to understand and relate better to Thoreau’s vision of a perfect life. One of the similes Thoreau gives is, “An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest.”(2) This simile relates back to his idea that “Our life is fritted away by detail.”(2) The simile just emphasized his idea. This method really captures the reader’s attention and connects them with the passage.
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