Salvage the Bones

Salvage the Bones Metaphors and Similes

Swimming and Sex (Simile)

Esch compares learning to swim to learning to have sex. Importantly, Daddy taught her to swim by throwing her into the water without her consent, an experience comparable to the passive way in which she allowed boys to have sex with her before she fell in love with Manny.

Esch's Stomach (Simile)

Waiting for the results of her pregnancy test, Esch regards her belly in the same way that the man didn't look at the injured woman at the site of the accident that Esch, Skeetah, and Big Henry saw leaving the grocery store. Throughout the novel, Esch maintains a cold distance from her own female body, much like the man from his injured mistress.

Boiled Milk (Simile)

Esch compares the smell of the dump truck in which she lost her virginity to boiled milk. This builds on existing imagery of rotting food and carcasses that dominates Esch's descriptions of her world, as she compares the way her brothers smell or the broken cars in her yard to bodies and rotting bananas, for example. She later compares her father's neck to that of a cooked turkey.

The Storm (Simile)

While Daddy watches the news, Esch notices that the TV's reception is so bad that its depiction of the storm resembles an oil stain. This recalls the oil stain Esch notices on Daddy's shirt just before he loses a finger, and is one of several chaotic, gritty images with which Esch associates the storm. Earlier, for example, she imagines that a flushing toilet is the eye of the hurricane.

Blood and Lipstick (Simile)

After China fights the white people's dog, Twist, Esch notices that China still has blood on her mouth, which she compares to lipstick. This link builds on existing notions of China as a seductive woman, mother, and lover.

Hearts and Arteries (Metaphor)

When describing the geography of Bois Sauvage, Esch calls its outer limits (where the white people live) the town's "pale arteries," whereas she and her family live in its "black heart" (97). In doing so, Esch builds a living map of her environment in which the black community constitutes the lifeblood of her town.