Life and Times of Michael K

Life and Times of Michael K Metaphors and Similes

Metaphor: Stony Ground

When someone tells K they believe in helping people, K wonders if he believes it as well. He thinks, "He did not seem to have a belief, or did not seem to have a belief regarding help. Perhaps I am the stony ground, he thought" (48). Referring to himself as the "stony ground" is a metaphorical way of suggesting that when "seeds" are sown, such as the important lessons of the Golden Rule and compassion for others, they encountered not fertile ground but rather stony ground in which nothing could grow.

Simile: The cart

K tries to make a cart be comfortable for his mother, for she is old and ill. However, he forgets that he is supposed to move it, and he realizes his mistake as soon as they start going and he finds it nearly impossible to move his mother's weight forward. After several improvements, the cart becomes “as light as a feather” and easy to move, a simile that shows K's ingenuity.

Simile: Anna and K

When Sea Point erupts into fighting and tumult as a result of the military accidentally killing a resident, Anna and K are “huddled quiet as mice” (12) in their room beneath the stairs. They are afraid that marauders or criminals could find them and kill without a second thought. This simile reinforces just how perilous life was for people during this civil war/apartheid era of South Africa's history.

Simile: Anna

As she is sick, her hands, belly, and feet swollen, Anna K can’t leave her tiny room without her son’s help. As if to make her even more sad and desperate, nature decides to exacerbate her pain, for it is constantly raining. She is feeling “like a toad under a stone” (9) because of unbearable humidity, the claustrophobia, and her constantly swelling limbs.

Simile: Stupidity

When the Visagie boy talks to K, he thinks, "he felt stupidity creep over him like a fog again" (64). The simile suggests a slow, thick fog obscuring what was once visible, meaning that K thinks that his formerly clear head is now obfuscated. He cannot deal with this boy because he is improbable, and he implicitly questions K's intellect and worth. K is not good with people, especially those who do not regard him as a real human being. Thus, he begins to break down.