The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories

The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories Metaphors and Similes

Eyes of the Panther (Metaphor)

"She took them to be two coals on the hearth, but with her returning sense of direction came the disquieting consciousness that they were not in that quarter of the room, moreover were too high, being nearly at the level of the eyes —of her own eyes. For these were the eyes of a panther." (4)

In "Eyes of the Panther," Charles Marlowe's wife, alone in the cabin, likens the eyes of the panther to two coals on the hearth. Though this is a rather indirect metaphor, by comparing the animal's eyes to coals, this quote emphasizes the dangerous qualities of the animal by comparing it to fire.

The Chain of Memory (Simile)

"This is only a record of broken and apparently unrelated memories, some of them as distinct and sequent as brilliant beads upon a thread, others remote and strange, having the character of crimson dreams with interspaces blank and black —witch-fires glowing still and red in a great desolation." (13)

In "The Moonlit Road," Joel Hetman Sr. has lost his mind after murdering his wife and has taken up residence in a distant city under a new name. However, he still possesses fragmented yet compelling memories of his former life. He likens the memories to beads upon a thread, which emphasizes that each are fully formed yet functionally disconnected from the others - rather than being of a whole piece, they are as separate as beads. This simile may indicate that these memories are a burden to him, since they rest upon his shoulders like a heavy necklace. Additionally, this likens these memories to red and black witch fires, a rather confusing but vivid comparison, evoking the menace and pain of his recollections.

Failing Flame (Metaphor)

"Apparently the man’s zeal for agriculture had burned with a failing flame, expiring in penitential ashes." (18)

In "The Boarded Window," after the death of his wife and its terrifying aftermath, Murlock loses much of his zest for life. This is demonstrated by the dwindling attention he pays to his farm, which mostly falls into ruin. Yet again, Bierce continues the theme of fire as an analogy; in this case, however, the generative and protective qualities of fire are evoked, since after his wife's death Murlock loses the will to work.

Like a Curse (Simile)

"Her husband raised her head, exposing a face ghastly white, except the long, deforming cicatrice, familiar to all her friends, which no art could ever hide, and which now traversed the pallor of her countenance like a visible curse." (58)

In "A Holy Terror," the scar on the face of Mary Matthews (now Mary Porfer) reveals her true identity. It was this scar that convinced her that she was not worthy of her beloved Jefferson Doman, though she did manage to marry a millionaire. This scar is likened to a curse, and in a way, it is one - it drove her away from Jefferson, whose corpse she has now found.

Golden Thread (Metaphor)

"And there the poor passing soul had exerted its failing will to restore a broken connection —a golden thread of sentiment between its innocence and a monstrous baseness owning a blind, brutal allegiance to the Law of Self." (71)

In "Beyond the Wall," the nameless young woman with whom Dampier has engaged in a wall-knocking flirtation uses the last of her strength to knock on the wall one more time before she dies. Dampier, not knowing she is dying and assuming she has spurned him, angrily ignores her. When he learns of her death, he compares her attempt to restore the connection between them to a golden thread - something beautiful, yet also fragile.