Harriet the Spy

Harriet the Spy Metaphors and Similes

"Pinky was so pale, thin, and weak that he looked like a glass of milk, a tall thin glass of milk." (simile)

When Harriet arrives at school for her first day of sixth grade, she carefully assesses each of her classmates to determine how they have—or have not—changed over the summer. She does not like Pinky Whitehead, as evidenced by her choice of a less-than-flattering simile to describe him. While it is cruel, it does allow readers to develop a mental image of the frail boy that is Pinky Whitehead.

"The crimson zoomed up Ole Golly's face again, making her look exactly like a hawk-nosed Indian." (simile)

This simile comes when Harriet is spying on Ole Golly as she begins her date with Mr. Waldenstein. It emphasizes how different Ole Golly acts when she is with him; she is blushing, timid, and meek, going along with his suggestions even when they are not activities she particularly enjoys. This is Harriet's first taste of the truth that love does strange things to a person.

"I feel there's a funny little hole in me that wasn't there before, like a splinter in your finger, but this is somewhere above my stomach." (metaphor)

Harriet writes this in her journal in the days immediately following Ole Golly's departure. She describes Ole Golly's absence as a hole inside of her, "somewhere above her stomach"—otherwise known as her heart. This metaphor accentuates the closeness between Harriet and her former nurse, and makes it clear that it will take the young girl a long time to get used to this newfound loneliness.

"They marched in formation like a platoon." (simile)

Harriet observes the Spy Catcher Club parade that passes her in the park in stoic frustration, feeling extremely isolated. Her classmates know exactly what will bother her most, so they choose to humiliate her in public. This sends a clear message that they are on the inside, and Harriet, because of the mean things she wrote in her notebook, is on the outside.

"That night at dinner Harriet suddenly felt like one big ear." (simile)

As soon as Harriet is designated this semester's editor of the Sixth Grade Page, she has an outlet to use her spying abilities in a constructive way. She takes advantage of this, absorbing every word of her parents' conversations at dinner so she knows what is going on among the adults in her community and can report it on the page.