In Rita's memory of picking berries with her younger sister, Eileen, Rita notices that her hands are bigger than those of her sister's. Rita's larger hands become a metaphor for the nature of her relationship with her sister, which is protective and maternal. The size of Rita's hands might also be attributed to the longer time she spent struggling in the city.
Warm water (simile)
Rita compares remembering her childhood to feeling warmed by a bath of warm water. The inconsistent timeline of the play lends itself to varied interpretations, including that Rita is hallucinating due to starvation in the courtroom, or that Rita is experiencing flashbacks at the end of her life. Either way, it is clear to see that these memories offer Rita a fair amount of comfort amid periods of fear and physical discomfort.
Incurable Carrier (Metaphor)
The Magistrate justifies his harsh treatment of Rita, asking her if he should break the law just because he feels a human connection to her. When Rita begs to go home, the Magistrate tells her that prisons and fines are one thing, but that she might be perpetually condemned as a human—an incurable carrier of a disease. This carrier "cannot come into contact with others without infecting them" (58). This question by the Magistrate implies that Rita's crime is infectious, that her poverty and degraded position is a state that she could pass on to others merely by living freely in society.
The image of bronze produced by the mixture of tin and copper in a melting pot is used as a metaphor for a vision of integrating Indigenous people into white society. The Teacher tells Rita that their school is a melting pot, and that Rita's troubles in school are equivalent to a rejection of this melting pot structure. Later, when Rita messes up a Bible verse, she tells Rita that she "will never make bronze" (66). She condemns Rita's inability to assimilate and tells Rita that this indicates that she is "coming from nowhere and going no place" (66).
David Joe speaks with the Priest about his pain and worry for his daughter. The Priest attempts to comfort him and tells him that he will speak with Rita Joe, to which David responds: "And tell her wat?...Of the animals there...(He gestures to the audience) Who sleep with sore stomachs because... they eat too much?" (104). Calling audience members and other white people who live in comfort "animals" works to implicate the audience in the comfort of their own lives, which they enjoy while people like Rita Joe suffer.
The Ecstasy of Rita Joe Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Ecstasy of Rita Joe is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.