Seedfolks Metaphors and Similes

“Gibb Street became the line between the blacks and the whites, like a border between countries.” (Simile, p. 8)

The narrator Ana uses simile to compare Gibb Street to a border between countries. In general, borders are spaces for the control of people and goods between countries. Depending on peoples’ national origin and citizenship status, they may be permitted or denied entry into a country. Ana’s metaphor indicates that Gibb Street serves the same function as an informal dividing line between the Black and white residents of the neighorhood. These divisions run so deep that, just like a border between countries, residents dare not cross it, since they fear something bad may happen to them on the other side.

“God, who made Eden, also wrecked the Tower of Babel, by dividing people. From Paradise, the garden was turning back into Cleveland.” (Metaphor, p. 24)

The narrator Sam uses a metaphor to compare the Gibb Street community garden first to Paradise, and then to the Tower of Babel. These biblical metaphors point at once to the opportunities and challenges that the garden represents. In this run-down neighborhood filled with trash and plagued by violence, the garden is like Eden, a visually pleasing and pleasant paradise where healthy food is growing. However, even in this relative paradise, Gibb Street residents begin to reproduce the social and racial divisions that mark the neighborhood within the garden itself, leading to conflict. In this way, the garden starts to become more like the Tower of Babel, which was wrecked due to the linguistic divisions between the people who were building it.

"We, like our seeds, were now planted in the garden.” (Metaphor, p. 40)

Seeds are a prominent metaphor throughout the novella. Here, Fleischman compares the Gibb Street gardeners to seeds. On the surface, seeds may appear to be nothing special. They are small and unremarkable. But given the right conditions, seeds can grow into plants that may eventually offer nutritious food, enjoyable shade, beautiful flowers, medicinal properties, and other benefits. In a similar manner, it would be easy to underestimate or even judge the first gardeners of the vacant lot, such as the young Kim or the downtrodden Wendell. However, these pioneer gardeners are like seeds that contain the power to produce significant changes on their street and in their neighborhood. They assume an increasing commitment to their shared project of the community garden, like seeds that sprout roots and grow.