Maire confronts Rio in the market shortly after Bay's departure, saying she needs to speak with her about her mother and sister. Rio walks away from her, though she feels "the dark of my losses in those words mother and sister, in the way she said them so they would echo in my mind, cold as a cathedral with no candles" (28).
This simile, comparing Rio's feelings of loss to the emptiness and cold of a cathedral with no candles, emphasizes the particular pain caused by her separation from her mother and sister: it is not acute and stabbing, but rather leaves her feeling empty. This simile is particularly suited to the situation because Rio's mother and sister worked in the temple of Atlantia, and one of their duties was lighting candles for the gods. After their loss, the temple is literally more empty and cold; therefore, Rio is also comparing herself to the empty temple that was left behind.
The Beast Atlantia (Metaphor)
During the morning of the ceremony, Rio muses on the nature of the her city: "Atlantia does resemble a giant sea creature sprawled out in the ocean. The tentacles of our streets and thoroughfares web out form the larger round hubs of the neighborhoods and marketplaces" (5).
Atlantia is compared to a sea creature, a living thing, and its neighborhoods are likened to tentacles. This metaphor emphasizes the tendency of some characters (especially Bay) to refer to Atlantia as a living thing. This literary technique also highlights Rio's disgust with the city.
Rio the Statue (Metaphor)
After Rio uses her siren powers on Nevio, he is stunned that even he cannot resist the incredible power of her voice. "'Impressive," Nevio says, his eyes running over me like I'm a fascinating piece of sculpture to admire; a line of scripture to decipher; a thing, not a person. 'She told us to stop, and we did'" (211).
Nevio is primary interested in Rio (and everyone else, for that matter) only insofar as they are useful to him. He does not care about the humanity of each person, and sees them as objects that he needs to understand and utilize properly.
The Sun of the Above (Simile)
When she first goes Above and sees the sun, Rio thinks, "The sun is a hot, orange circle, like a single piece of coin burning as it dips toward the ocean" (234).
The sun is obscured somewhat behind the thick pollution of the Above, but it is still a dazzling sight to Rio. Having never seen the sun before in her life, the only thing she can compare it to is a coin.
Mermaid Girl (Metaphor)
When Rio sees her sister Bay in the Above, the two can hardly contain their joy; they embrace and weep with delight. "I'm a mermaid girl, tears in my hair, salt on my skin, barely able to breathe under the heavy weight of what's happened and light with the relief of seeing my sister at last" (256).
Like a mermaid, Rio has lived all her life underwater but has always longed to see the Above. She has paid a great price to fulfill her wish. However, like the mermaid, Rio does not really belong in either place and she cannot stay Above for long.
Atlantia Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Atlantia is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.