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"Surely you remember the boy in you own school class who was exceptionally "bright", did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him". p.77 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

What does this simile mean? I have tried looking it up online but there is no other explanation than that it is a simile, which isn't very helpful...

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    Well, lead is famously heavy and an idol is famously inanimate, so you can guess what a leaden idol does (or rather, doesn't do). Apr 30, 2020 at 15:49
  • @KateBunting I got it, thank you Apr 30, 2020 at 20:00

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"Leaden" is an adjective that means "like lead" (the metal) Lead is heavy, grey and doesn't ring when you strike it.

An idol is a statue of a god. The word has a somewhat negative connotation: something that is worshipped but is not itself worthy of worship. People may pray to an idol, but because it is just wood (or stone or even lead) it can't respond.

So a "Leaden idol" means "an statue of a god that is made of lead" Figuratively this is something heavy, dull and incapable of any kind of response.

This is a simile, but it is not a "standard" simile. Good authors create their own similes and metaphors instead of using clichés or idioms.

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