An American Dream Metaphors and Similes

An American Dream Metaphors and Similes

Metaphor for Stephen Rojack's Mental or Emotional States

Scents are of particular significance for Rojack as it is often used as a metaphor for his mental and emotional states. His disgust he feels for his ex-wife Deborah when he sees her drinking manifests itself as an odor he describes as the “stench of sweet rot” and his disgust for Kelly manifests itself as a scent he narrates as the “congregated odor of the wealthy…a whiff of the tomb.” Scents are a somatic manifestation of emotions and mental states of Rojack’s unraveling mental stability; like an animal—another allusion to his deteriorating mental condition—he experiences these emotions that he may not be able to understand, and even though he doesn’t fully comprehend it he feels it through the most unlikely of organs: his nose.

Metaphor for Madness and Violence

The moon is used as a metaphor for violence or hinting at the potential for violence because when there is mention of the moon it is always followed by acts completely devoid of standard logic or shocking violence. The moon is what gives Rojack the energy to kill the German soldiers and what prompts him to commit suicide. He postpones a public speech he has to make as a congressman because he fears what effect the full moon will have on him as the speech is scheduled on a date when the moon is full.

Metaphor for The Heroes’ Journey

Rojack is constantly reinventing himself and he goes through a number of surprising career jumps; soldier, professor, US congressman, then television show host. In the process of these career jumps he also achieves a number of impressive personal milestones, rising out of poverty and obscurity to fame and fortune. These career changes are a metaphor for the heroes’ journey that he goes through as he searches for relevance. Rojcak’s heroes’ journey however deviates from the standard formula significantly because rather than narrating a rise from insignificance to prominence the story starts from his prominence to his decline.

Metaphor for Cherry

The apartment that Cherry resides in is a metaphorical reflection of herself. Her residence is a shabby tenement building located in the rough part of town. Her unit is every bit as dilapidated, with the walls lined with cracked plaster and filled with rundown furniture. Things aren’t all as shabby inside her apartment unit however; it is filled with her sister’s paintings, which, although tragic are a powerful reminder to her that personal tragedies can be overcome. Cherry is very much like this in that she is rough and has taken a lot of blows from he world but she is still a good person deep inside.

Metaphor for Power

When Shago forces his way into Cherry’s apartment intending to intimidate Rojack he brings along an umbrella as an unlikely weapon of sorts. The truth of the matter however is this—Shago is just big and tough looking but he doesn’t have the propensity for violence the way Rojack does and the umbrella is a prop. Rojack beats him to an inch of his life and steals the umbrella, a gesture loaded with meaning: he takes it as a trophy of “war” and in doing that he “emasculates” Shago. The taking of the umbrella is metaphorical transference of power from Shago to Rojack. Later on in the novel the umbrella makes another appearance when he uses it to beat Kelly and he makes a comment about how it fills him with a sense of power.

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