"A river of tears rolled down my cheeks" (Chapter 4, pg. 41) (Metaphor)
This metaphor compares Dave's tears to a river, making it clear to readers just how much his mother's abuse hurts him. The use of "river" is especially important, because it invokes thoughts of the Russian River, a place that was once the pinnacle of happiness for Dave.
"I felt like an alligator in a swamp" (Chapter 6, pg. 67) (Simile)
Dave makes this comparison the first time he is given the bathtub punishment, in which he is forced to keep his face submerged in freezing water for hours. He compares himself to an animal, which emphasizes the theme of dehumanization that is present throughout this memoir. Dave's mother constantly treats him like an animal, so much so that he begins to feel like one himself.
"My body shakes like jello and I mumble like a baby, begging Mr. Hansen not to phone mother" (Chapter 1, pg. 10) (Simile)
These two similes emphasize how effective Dave's mother's fear politics are: he is afraid of her even when he is not at home, always thinking about the punishments that await him. He also compares himself to a baby even though he is twelve years old at the time, emphasizing the way in which fear of his mother has interfered with his maturity and caused him to regress.
"As I held a piece of frozen pumpkin pie crust or a bit of taco shell, I was the king, and like a king on his throne, I gazed down on my food and smiled" (Chapter 4, pg. 49) (Metaphor and Simile)
Dave's comparison of himself to a king is similar to the way in which he compares himself to a superhero: these are displays of confidence that make it clear that his mother has not completely broken him. He imagines himself as strong and brave, able to stand up to his mother and eventually reach better days. This hope keeps him moving from day to day.
"Deep inside I could still feel the pressure building like a volcano, waiting to erupt from deep inside my soul" (Chapter 7, pg. 84) (Simile)
Chapter 7 describes the last part of Dave's abuse, when he grows increasingly desperate and fed up with the conditions in which he is living. He compares himself to a volcano, ready to explode at any moment, because he has endured so much over eight years of abuse that he can barely handle it anymore.
A Child Called “It” Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for A Child Called “It” is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Dave's punishments began to evolve. It started with having to sit in a corner of the bedroom, and progressed to the "mirror treatment," in which she would smash his face against the mirror and force him to say he was a bad boy. When their father...