Personification is a figure of speech. It is a rhetoric device in which human attributes are given to animals, non-living things or ideas. The objects speak/behave like humans, with human emotions in such cases.
Personifying animals:
  1. The cat asked the mouse for a dinner treat.
  2. The dog asked his master to let him inside.
Personifying ideas:
  1. Love is blind.
  2. His anger oozed out in his words.
Personifying non-living things:
  1. The popcorn popped out of the bowl immediately in the oven.
  2. The sun shined and smiled upon us, early in the morning.
Uses of personification:
  1. When human qualities are given to objects, the writer/poet can convey the meaning easily.
  2. The understanding of the idea is made easier when objects are personified.
  3. It helps to build a character around the object.
  4. Makes the text/poetry more interesting and fun to read.
  5. Literal meanings are to be ignored in such cases.
Personification used in the lesson "A Bicycle in Good Repair":
The bicycle is personified in the lesson. The following lines illustrate the use of personification from the lesson.
1. Don’t do that; you’ll hurt it.
Explanation: Here, "it" refers to the bicycle. Non-living things cannot get hurt, but the speaker makes it sound as though the bicycle is a living thing.
2. Easily enough in the morning; goes a little stiffly after lunch.
Explanation: Here, the speaker makes it sound as if the bicycle is capable of eating lunch or feeling tired. Bicycles can never eat or feel lazy; instead, they are the qualities of humans.
3. It had not done anything to him.
Explanation: Speaking of bicycle, the narrator feels terrible for the mistreatment it suffers at the hand of the man. However, a non-living object such as the bicycle can not act against or for anyone.
4. By a sudden, quick movement it would free itself and, turning upon him, hit him sharply over the head with one of its handles.
Explanation: Here, the speaker talks of the bicycle as if it can think and act. The man and not the bicycle cause the movement attributed to the bicycle. However, the narrator makes it sound as if it is the other way around.
5. Which had received most punishment it would have been difficult to say.
Explanation: Bicycle is incapable of creating offence or feeling pain. Hence, the term "punishment" is associated to living things and not lifeless objects.
How is the bicycle personified in the lesson?
In the lesson "A Bicycle in Good Repair", the bicycle is given the qualities of a living thing. Right from the beginning, the narrator treats his bicycle more like a pet than like a vehicle.
Bicycle is a non-living thing, and it can not get hurt. But when the man shakes the fork of the bicycle, the narrator asks him to stop doing that. He says, "don’t do that; you’ll hurt it." Throughout the story, we see the narrator sympathising with his bicycle. He says, "it had not done anything to him" though it is understood that a lifeless object like a bicycle cannot do anything to anyone. The personification of the bicycle helps us understand the special bond existing between the narrator and his bicycle. Later in the lesson, the narrator describes the tug-of-war between the man and the bicycle in such a way that it sounds as if the bicycle was indeed "fighting" with the man. The following lines from the story demonstrates the concept of personification at its best. "The bicycle, I was glad to see, showed spirit... By a sudden, quick movement it would free itself and, turning upon him, hit him sharply over the head with one of its handles." The narrator speaks of the bicycle as if it had a mind of its own. The bicycle's "retaliation" to the man's actions gives more scope for the humour in the story.
Hence, the lesson received a new dimension when the bicycle was personified. It made the lesson more interesting and fun to read. We were also able to understand the characters such as the narrator and the man better when the bicycle was personified. It had also contributed to the humour and tone of the lesson.