Going to Meet the Man

Going to Meet the Man Metaphors and Similes

John, like a rabbit facing a barking dog - "The Rockpile" (Metaphor)

Baldwin describes Elizabeth's witness of John enduring Gabriel's interrogation. He writes, "The child stared at the man in fascination and terror—when a girl down home she had seen rabbits stand so paralyzed before the barking dog." The comparison both provides exposition regarding Elizabeth's rural, southern origins and emphasizes John's vulnerability and helplessness under Gabriel's thumb.

Rigid as a soldier (Simile) - "The Man Child"

In "The Man Child," Baldwin describes Jamie's drunkenness through the eyes of Eric: "Eric had seen him much drunker. Drunk, he became rigid, as though he imagined himself in the army again." This image goes against the typical perception of drunkenness loosening a person up. Perhaps when drunk, Jamie yearns for the sense of purpose he felt when he was in the army, a purpose that he has lost now that he is back on what used to be his father's land, land that no longer belongs to him.

Age difference like a chasm (Simile) - "Sonny's Blues"

When the narrator of "Sonny's Blues" meets his brother after he's released from jail, he says, "The seven years’ difference in our ages lay between us like a chasm: I wondered if these years would ever operate between us as a bridge." The narrator feels disconnected from his brother because their experiences have been so different in life, but he's hoping to invert this difference someday and make their different experiences tools to better understand one another.

Like living with sound (Simile) - "Sonny's Blues"

The narrator of "Sonny's Blues" describes his brother's presence at Isabel's house while he was away in the army: "Well, I really don’t know how they stood it. Isabel finally confessed that it wasn’t like living with a person at all, it was like living with sound. And the sound didn’t make any sense to her, didn’t make any sense to any of them—naturally." The description of Sonny as merely "a sound" emphasizes the so-called "cloud" he existed in. During the stretch of time he lived at Isabel's, he poured his entire being into learning the piano.

Telephone like a black cat (Simile) - "Come Out the Wilderness"

In "Come Out the Wilderness," Baldwin describes the malevolent quality taken on by Ruth's telephone: "And as the night faded from black to gray to daylight, the telephone began to seem another presence in the house, sitting not far from her like a great, malevolent black cat that might, at any moment, with one shrill cry, scatter her life like dismembered limbs all over this tiny room." The foreboding associations of black cats reflect Ruth's fear that her family may call any day and tell her that someone has died, thus forcing her to return to the South and leave New York behind for an unknown amount of time.