The Island

The Island Metaphors and Similes

Black Domination lost its shoes (Metaphor)

After his ear begins to bleed and Winston tends to it, early in the play, John talks about the fact that White Domination has become the status quo in the country, and uses a metaphor to describe the subordination of "Black Domination" under apartheid. He says, "Black Domination was chased by White Domination. Black Domination lost its shoes and collected a few bruises. Black Domination will run barefoot to the quarry tomorrow." Using personification, he turns the concept of Black Domination into a person who is imprisoned on the island. In effect, he turns the concept of Black Domination into himself with this metaphor.

"Like smoke from a cigarette" (Simile)

After John finds out he is getting released from prison early, he recounts the road that led him to imprisonment. He remembers how simple it was to lock him up, contrasted with the profound consequence it has had on his life. He says of the magistrate who locked him up, "I watched ten years of my life drift away like smoke from a cigarette while he fidgeted and scratched his arse." This simile, comparing his imprisoned years passing to smoke coming off a cigarette, makes it clear that the ten years of his life drifted away quickly and easily. It alludes to the fact that his imprisonment was so easy to enact by the people who imprisoned him, even if it has had a profoundly damaging effect on his life.

"As clean as the apron Nanny wears" (Metaphor and Simile)

Within the play-within-a-play of Antigone, John, as Creon, makes an address to his people, and refers to the "cleanliness" of his crown. He suggests that his government is not corrupt, and compares himself to a nanny who acts as a servant to a family, taking care of its child. He uses the metaphor of the nanny, and a simile to compare his crown to a nanny's apron: "Creon's crown is as simple, and I hope as clean, as the apron Nanny wears. And even as Nanny smiles and is your happy servant because she sees her charge...your child!...waxing fat in that little cradle, so too does Crown—your obedient servant!—stand here and smile."

Rats (Metaphor)

John, as Creon, uses quite a few metaphors in his address to his people. Moments after discussing his citizens by suggesting they are a family whose babies need looking after, he describes certain disobedient people as "rats," a threat to the regime's cleanliness and care. He says, "...there are still amongst us a few rats that are not satisfied and to them I must show this face of Creon...Let what follows be a living lesson for those among you misguided enough still to harbour sympathy for rats!" In this context, rats are those who are disloyal to the state.

Law as Shield (Metaphor)

In this same speech, Creon characterizes the law as a shield from harm. He says, "The law is no more or less than a shield in your faithful servant's hand to protect YOU! But even as a shield would be useless in one hand, to defend, without a sword in the other, to too the law has its edge." This metaphor is a justification for the state to wield its power, as well as an "edge" over its citizens.