"Thus the viper sucks from your bosom without you even knowing" (20)
This metaphor refers to betrayal by those whom you are feeding and treating "like family." Marnus' mother specifically feels, on multiple occasions, that the help she treats far better than her friends and neighbors treat their help, do not appreciate how well they are treated, and therefore betray that goodwill and kindness by leaving suddenly, or stealing from the family. The viper is a metaphor for the harmless-looking employees who turn out to be poisonous; the "sucking from the bosom" is a metaphor for them being part of the family, treated with the same kindness and generosity that she treats her children.
Simile: The Sea
"The sea is like a big animal breathing on the other side of the tracks" (84)
Marnus has always had every respect for the sea and its magnificence, and this simile likens the sea to a living, breathing creature. The undulating ebb and flow of the tide coming in, going out, coming in, going out, is like the breathing of an animal with the chest going up, going down. The sound is also rhythmic and regular, and calming, like the breathing of a large beast.
Simile: Sea Lice
"The twins' pinched faces made them look like sea lice" (125)
The twins do not have the usual round, fleshed-out faces that the other children have but rather a narrow face shape that seems to be pinched, with all of the features directly forwards-facing. This gives them the appearance of sea lice which have all of their features at the front of their heads and who seem to be consistently pursing their mouths to look even more like they are being pinched between tweezers than they would normally.
"A Volk that forgets its history is like a man without a memory" (38)
A man without a memory would find it very hard to negotiate his way through life as he would have no memory of the people loved, skills acquired or lessons learned that might prove necessary in his life moving forward. Marnus' father likens an Afrikaaner man who does not remember the lessons of history to such a memory-less man. By forgetting what has happened in the past, the man might as well have no memory at all, as he will not remember the lessons of the past and use them to create a better future, or defend the one that he has.
"When we roll the porridge into round balls and throw it high up into the sky it's like a fountain of feathers bursting up into the blue heaven" (43)
The birds outside Marnus' home love porridge oats that are rolled into balls. Marnus throws them into the air for the birds to catch and fly off with but when he does so there is such a flurry of activity from each of the birds, trying to be the one who catches the porridge ball, that the birds themselves are not discernible and all that one can see is feathers, bursting into the air in jets and spurts like a fountain of water. This is a charming image, but Behr is always trying to show that the idyllic nature of Marnus' life is actually false.
The Smell of Apples Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Smell of Apples is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.