A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls Metaphors and Similes

Your Poodle (Metaphor)

When Harry, Sully, and Anton pick on Conor as he enters the schoolyard, Lily intervenes to stick up for Conor. Anton says, "Your poodle's here to save you." In referring to Lily as a poodle, Anton uses the figurative language of a metaphor to tease her for her curly hair.

Like a Little Sun (Simile)

As Harry and the other bullies are picking on Conor, Ness writes that Conor’s stomach contracts to feel like a ball of fire, "like a little sun burning him up from the inside." In this simile, Ness illustrates the extreme sensation that Conor's anger and shame provokes by likening the sensation to that of holding a small fireball within his stomach.

Burnt Into Her Face Like a Scar (Metaphor and Simile)

After Lily attempts to defend Conor when the bullies pick on him, Miss Kwan, the students' Head of Year, storms over to them to intervene. Ness writes that Kwan has "her scariest frown burnt into her face like a scar." In this line, Ness uses a hyperbolic metaphor to describe the extremity of her expression to say it is burnt into her face. In the same clause, Ness also uses a simile to liken her frown to a scar. The metaphor and simile suggest Miss Kwan's expression is so often a disapproving frown that the expression appears to be as permanent as the scar tissue that results from a burn.

Like Lifting a Mountain (Simile)

As Conor tries to articulate to the monster that he thought maybe the monster had come to help save Conor from his grandmother's bossiness, he experiences a nightmarish feeling of shame that makes "everything seem heavy and impossible, like he’d been asked to lift a mountain with his bare hands and no one would let him leave until he did." In this simile, Ness illustrates the abstract pressure Conor feels by comparing the daunting task of making sense of his mother's cancer to that of physically lifting a mountain.

Slay Your Dragons (Metaphor)

After Conor sees the monster watching Conor and his grandmother argue in the kitchen, the monster suggests that Conor thought the monster might have been there to topple Conor's enemies and "slay [his] dragons." In this metaphor, the monster refers to the emotional obstacles preventing Conor from living a peaceful life as dragons in need of slaying.