Rabindranath Tagore: Short Stories

Rabindranath Tagore: Short Stories Metaphors and Similes

“And just as jewels and bangles, worn together, enhance each other, so the Inspector drew financial benefit from my interventions and I from his.” (Simile in "Thoughtlessness")

While the simile clearly means that policing and doctoring go together like jewels and bangles, Tagore chooses this particular analogy since it speaks to the opulence of each. Whether in the jewels or in these professions, there’s a sizable amount of wealth involved.

"Its clock’s tick ceased" (Metaphor in "The Living and the Dead")

Tagore uses this metaphor for the heartbeat to talk of a largely eventless death, but also leaves open the possibility that this metaphorical clock, just like a real one, might start ticking again. Indeed, Kadambini comes back to life — that clock starts ticking again — just a few hours after she first dies.

"When the swollen flood-waters of the river started to heave like the Earth’s brimming tears," (Simile in "The Postmaster")

This simile describes the waves made by the boat that Ratan watches the postmaster sail away in. The waters are likened to Earth's tears in this simile to illustrate how heartbroken Ratan is to watch the postmaster go after he so unceremoniously abandoned her.

"When the sun went down behind the crags, a long shadow fell, like a curtain abruptly ending the drama of the day." (Simile in "The Hungry Stones")

The storyteller in "The Hungry Stones" likens the sun setting to the curtains going down on the drama of the day in an inversion of what will come to happen in the story. His nights will go on to be the most dramatic parts of his days, as he dreams nightly of being transported back centuries to enjoy the lavish delights of the haunted palace. This simile is to some extent inverse foreshadowing, providing an ironic counterpoint to what we'll soon come to learn is reality.

"Like a spark on a sack of gunpowder, the elder wife exploded, shrieking out, 'Where is there food?'" (Simile in "Punishment")

When Dukhiram returns home from a hard day of work early in "Punishment" he demands that Radha cook for him, and Radha snaps at him "like a spark on a sack of gundpowder" that she can't cook for him if he doesn't bring any food home for them. It's a smart simile, since it expresses how much rage Radha had pent up from another day of living deep in poverty and quarreling with her sister-in-law Chandara.