In the first scene of the play, when he puts an oxygen mask on Princess, Chance uses a metaphor to describe the way she looks, saying, “You look exotic, like a Princess from Mars or a big magnified insect.” He tries to make her feel better about wearing an oxygen mask by describing it as "exotic" and using unusual similes.
Like a dead body washed up on it (Simile)
In Act 2, Tom Jr. describes Heavenly lying on the beach outside by saying, “She’s lyin’ out on the beach like a dead body washed upon on it.” This simile signals that Heavenly is quite unhappy, languishing in her existence as the daughter of a politician, and rendered nearly lifeless by her recent surgery.
Sex-envy is a widespread disease (Metaphor)
When they are discussing the fear that white Southerners have about desegregation and the fact that it will make white women vulnerable to advances from black men, Chance suggests that this political fear has to do with sex-envy. He suggests that white men are simply jealous of the sexuality of black men and that this envy is (metaphorically) a disease. He says plainly, “Sex-envy is what it is and the revenge for sex-envy which is a widespread disease…”
The metaphor of the monster is one the recurs throughout the play. Princess often refers to herself and Chance as two monsters, in that they exist on the margins of society and have fallen from their pedestals to a position in which they are now reviled. It is a metaphor through which these two misfits can connect and understand one another; they both know what it is like to feel unwanted and monstrous, and it is this shared feeling that binds them together.
Retiring to the Moon (Metaphor)
In a direct address monologue to the audience, Princess explains that she has retired "to the Moon," as a way of explaining how she is living out life in obscurity. This metaphor suggests that she has dropped out of society, has left her Hollywood life behind, and gone somewhere "not of this Earth." Additionally, the specific metaphor of the moon suggests a more elevated hideaway, a glamorous and ethereal realm that is somewhat cut off from reality. Princess's dependence on drugs and alcohol has made her hazy and obscured her sense of boundaries and identity, even to herself, so the metaphor of the moon fits in well with her lifestyle of languishing.
Sweet Bird of Youth Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Sweet Bird of Youth is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.