"There was no blood or sweat anywhere. The man in the picture had just finished an excellent lunch and had moved next door to do a bit of calving just for the sheer pleasure of it, as a kind of dessert." (Simile) (Ch. 1, p. 1)
Herriot recounts the image of the textbook on calfing, from veterinary school. Herriot mocks the idyllic image of a country vet he found in the obstetrics book. The simile here, comparing calfing to dessert, conveys the ridiculousness of the image, portraying it as incredibly unrealistic. Through the simile, he illustrates how the image of the man "in the middle of a gleaming floor" is contrived: real veterinary work is far more gruesome and bloody. The simile helps to illustrate that, in reality, being a vet is more difficult than the image makes it appear to be. Through this, the reader learns about some of the struggles involved with being a country vet.
"The words set a mournful little bell tolling inside me." (Metaphor) (Ch. 1, p. 3)
Herriot is being questioned as to his expertise and experience as a vet. Herriot is about to treat a cow, but the man questioning him, the brother of the farmer who owns the cow, is casting doubt over Herriot's expertise. This metaphor clearly emphasizes Herriot's dismay at being mistreated by a condescending farmer. The farmer believes Herriot's lack of experience to be proof of his inadequacies. This upsets Herriot, who knows that he is capable and competent, and wishes people would stop underestimating him. This scene occurs in the first chapter of the novel, setting the tone for Herriot's struggles as he faces the harsh judgments of the local farmers. The somber metaphor thus conveys Herriot's frustration towards prejudiced farmers.
“...a river of dogs poured round the corner of a long passage and dashed itself with frenzied yells against the door.” (Metaphor) (Ch. 2, p. 11)
When Herriot arrives for the first time at Siegfried’s home, the first thing he sees is Siegfried’s dogs. Throughout the book, every time the doorbell rings, the dogs dutifully answer it with their ritual barking. This metaphor emphasizes the power that Herriot notices behind the dogs, as well as the propulsive force of them; the dogs, like a river of water, cannot be contained, nor can they be stopped from fulfilling their task of barking at visitors. Luckily for Herriot, their ferociousness is easily contained by some quick and firm words.
"Tricki Woo was a Pekingese and the apple of his mistress' eye." (Metaphor) (Ch. 13, p. 94)
Tricki Woo is a patient of Herriot's who belongs to a wealthy older woman, Mrs. Pumphrey. This metaphor and cliche illustrates Mrs. Pumphrey's devoted affection towards her dog, Tricki Woo. It emphasizes how she elevates her dog from the status of pet to child, treating him like a son. This is also seen in how she lavishly bestows her pet with expensive gifts and luxury food. This simple metaphor provides great insight into Mrs. Pumphrey's eccentric characterization and her close connection to Tricki Woo.
“I could see the farm down there in its hollow and it, too, looked different; small, remote, like a charcoal drawing against the hills bulking smooth and white beyond. ” (Simile) (Ch. 51, p. 325)
Herriot, experiencing the winter of the Dales, is always impressed the the severity and the expansiveness of its beauty. He often spends time describing the scenery, using metaphor and simile. Here, Herriot emphasizes the vastness of the landscape. The comparison to a drawing draws attention to farm’s contrast with this landscape: the farm itself looks almost unreal in its smallness, almost two dimensional compared to the “bulking” countryside surrounding it.
All Creatures Great and Small Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for All Creatures Great and Small is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.