The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner Metaphors and Similes

Bones Like Carrots (Simile)

When Parvana and Shauzia dig up bones at the cemetery, Parvana is surprised when the bone she grabs comes "out of the dirt as if it were a carrot being pulled up from a garden." In this simile, the bizarre and uncommon experience of pulling a bone from a disturbed grave is compared to an experience with which most readers are familiar—the satisfaction of removing a carrot from a garden.

Wives' False Legs (Metaphor)

Early in the novel, the reader learns that many men sell their wives' false legs at the Kabul market. The peculiar situation arises from a need for money, and from the fact that women under Taliban rule are not allowed to leave the home. Thus their ability to walk is less important than their family's need to eat. The sale of the women's false legs also carries metaphoric significance, representing how the Taliban government has restricted their freedom of mobility, creating a society in which women's legs are literally taken out from under them.

Land Mines Are As Common As Rocks (Simile)

While walking in unfamiliar territory, Parvana always remembers how her father once said "land mines are as common as rocks and can blow you up without warning." Author Deborah Ellis emphasizes the terrifying ubiquity of landmines in Kabul through a simile that compares the instruments of war to objects as common and nondescript as rocks.

Hands Like Beads on a Necklace (Simile)

When Parvana and Shauzia follow the crowd into the stadium, they are disturbed to see the public removal of thieves' hands. Before they leave, Parvana sees a boy holding up a string with the four severed hands like beads on a necklace. In this simile, the spectacle is emphasized by a contrast between the grotesque disembodied hands and the casual, commonplace object of a necklace, suggesting the boy shares none of Parvana's horror at the display.

Like Stars Cover the Sky (Simile)

To emphasize the displacement of Afghan people, Parvana's father says that "Afghans cover the earth like stars cover the sky." In this simile, Parvana's father underscores the point that conflicts in Afghanistan have spread the country's people across the globe to a degree that is as unfathomable as trying to account for all the stars in the sky.