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In this poem, when comparing the caged bird to suppressed black people in America, is the poet using metaphor or symbol?

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Metaphor and symbolism are related, but in symbolism, the thing another object stands for is generally more complex and abstract than in metaphor. Therefore, in this case, the bird itself represents oppressed black people, so metaphor is used for the specific case you ask about. Here is some information that supports this contention:

Is there a fine line between symbolism and metaphors in literature? - English SE

The Difference Between Metaphors and Symbols - The Sceptical Prophet

  • You may well be right, but it's hard to tell because this answer is so short and unsupported. Could you possibly edit to include some backup for your definitions of metaphor and symbolism? Thanks! :-) – Rand al'Thor Jan 1 '18 at 13:23
  • Whoops, knew I shouldn't have written it that fast. Well, I've added some more links that should hopefully give more support. – Inflationary_Bubble Jan 2 '18 at 20:24

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