Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name Metaphors and Similes

“Later!” (Metaphor)

The first thing the narrator (Elio) remembers when talking about Oliver was his manner of using the word “Later” to say goodbye. For Elio, it was something new, as he has never heard it before. But Oliver’s “Later” wasn’t just a simple goodbye for him: it was the sign of indifference which was unbearable for the boy. His voice, when he was saying this simple word, sounded like he didn’t care about the person he was leaving.

Fire like Cluster Bombs (Simile)

Elio says his entire body is on fire because of desire for Oliver. The fire is not likened to passion, however, but "something paralyzing, like the fire of cluster bombs." This comparison expresses the silent supplication of a boy who wants love but is afraid to speak his feelings. This comparison also references the work of Paul Celan, whom both Elio and Oliver discuss in the novel. Celan wrote after the Second World War and recounted memories of his mother witnessing the bombing of Munich in 1945, noting the paralyzing feeling of seeing a red sky.

The Homecoming of Elio and Oliver (Simile)

Elio finds pleasure in totally relinquishing his body to Oliver. He says that it feeling was “like coming home after years away among Trojans and Lestrygonians.” Prior to his first sexual encounter with Oliver, while contemplating their shared Jewish background and the growing feeling that they might be soulmates, he wonders if Oliver is his "homecoming." This figuratively represents the feeling of belonging that he feels with Oliver: both the feelings of being one with a lover and being with one's community.

Coma (Simile)

When Elio and Oliver reunite 20 years after the events of their summer together, memories return along with the feeling that no time has passed. Elio likens it to waking from a 20-year coma: feeling as young and passionate as they did 20 years before. 20 years ago feels the same as yesterday. His memories with Oliver are so vivid that they feel as timeless as their love itself.

River of Desire (metaphor)

Oliver contemplates whether there is any difference between the verbs 'being' and 'having' when it comes to desire. He believes that the desire to touch someone's body and the longing to be the person he's longing to touch are one and the same: to be "opposite banks on a river that passes from us to them." This characterizes the theme of desire as both homoerotic and universal.