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I'm reading a book by Salman Rushdie (Shame) and came to such a sentence, where I'm not sure to which word the phrase with like refers.

...while that wind like the cough of a sick giant burned away her eyebrows (which never grew again)

Does it mean

  • The wind was like the cough of a sick giant, OR
  • The wind burned away her eyebrows in the same way as the cough of sick giant would do.
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It seems to me that both your options are very similar in meaning. But in essence, the writer compared the force/strength of the wind to the cough of a sick giant. Such a thing would have burned away her eyebrows in the same way the wind did.

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