Dutchman and The Slave

Dutchman and The Slave Metaphors and Similes

Simile: Juliet's Tomb

When Lula is telling Clay what their encounter will be like, she says he will comment on her apartment: "This place is like Juliet's tomb" (26). On the surface this is just glib—her apartment is cold and not decorated warmly—but there is much more in this simile. Anything associated with Lula is a tomb for Clay, as she is his murderer. She casts herself as Juliet to try to seem like a doomed lover, but the irony is that she is the one doing the "dooming."

Metaphor: Grace's Depiction of Walker

Grace excoriates her ex-husband for being pulled in too many directions, stating, "There are so many bulbs and screams shooting off inside you, Walker" (61). The metaphor suggests wires, explosions, lightbulbs, loud noises, and bangs, mirrored by the explosions outside. Suggesting that his thoughts are equivalent to explosions, bad wires, or cracking lightbulbs suggests that Walker cannot control himself: he is experiencing an overload and does not know what to do. Grace is correct that Walker is overwhelmed, but her analysis is ultimately inaccurate because it stems from her white, liberal, and selfish perspective. She has no idea what Walker is experiencing.

Metaphor: Visions as Film

Another insult Grace lobs at Walker is that he does not truly love nor want his daughters: instead, he wants to play the hero. She says, "You probably went over that...or had it go through your head on that gray film, a thousand times until it was some kind of obligatory reality" (69). She uses the metaphor of film to show what she thinks Walker is doing: showing himself image after image of himself doing heroic deeds and saving his daughter. Film is an illusion, though, as is Walker's vision of himself as a hero (at least according to Grace).

Simile: Death Eating a Soda Cracker

Lula snarkily tells Clay, "You look like death eating a soda cracker" (8). This succinct insult comments on how remarkably boring she perceives Clay to be. The image of death, perhaps the most powerful entity in existence, eating a simple soda cracker is a ludicrous one, negating death's power and destroying his pretensions.

Simile: Hands as Dry as Ashes

Lula proclaims that her hands will be as dry as ashes when she and Clay are consummating their flirtation. This is not a particularly appealing comment for her to make, but it is indicative of the death that she offers to Clay. There is no life here, no nurturing. She only offers a wasteland in her temptations, one that Clay will not be able to escape from.