The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife Metaphors and Similes

The Enraged Tiger (Simile)

Early in the narrative, Natalia describes a dustpan keeper who attempts to pet a tiger, and is attacked in the process: after grabbing the man's arm, the tiger emits an "outraged scream" and begins "making a noise like a locomotive" (Page 4). These turns of description are meant to convey the tiger's fearsome power--especially the second, which compares the tiger to an unstoppable piece of machinery. However, such metaphors and similes also set the stage for the even more fearsome descriptions that the people of Galina lavish on their tiger. The tiger of Galina is a "devil,” not simply a terrifying machine.

Gavo's First Appearance (Simile)

When he first encounters Gavo, the Deathless Man, Natalia's grandfather is suspicious. Even though Gavo appears to be agreeable and harmless in some ways, the grandfather worries that "he is going to make me feel safe and pleasant enough to fall asleep, and then I will find myself starting awake with him standing over me, growling like an animal, his eyes bulging like a rabid dog's" (Page 69). These similes register the grandfather's apprehension: a man with a condition as unexpected as Gavo's may, after all, have an equally unexpected evil side. But the similes may also be an attempt by the grandfather, who is well acquainted with wild animals from his youth, to explain a new sight in terms of images that he already knows well.

The Influence of Warfare (Metaphor)

In describing her generation, Natalia notes that "we had been unable to ration our enthusiasm for living under the yoke of war; now, we couldn't regulate our inability to part with it" (Page 153). The language of war and politics ("ration", "regulate") is so much a part of Natalia's world that it filters into her way of thinking. And the metaphor of a "yoke" indicates that war is both a burden and a force that has determined her major decisions: after all, she notes that people her age chose their careers under "the assumption that war and its immediate effects would always be around" (Page 153).

Gifts for the Tiger's Wife (Simile)

In his youth, Natalia's grandfather would bring gifts to the Tiger's Wife; for example, he is described as carrying her a bonnet "as gently as you would carry a bird's nest, cross the road with it and climb the porch stairs and, holding the needles aside, tuck the shining hair of the tiger's wife under it" (Page 223). The grandfather's delicate carrying is in concord with his other, delicate actions, which indicate his focused attention on the solitary tiger's wife. But the image of fragility ("a bird's nest") is also appropriate to the precarious social situation of the tiger's wife, since the other people of Galina view her with suspicion.

Darisa's Panic (Simile)

During one of his beloved sister Magdalena's attacks, the young Darisa is overcome with strong emotion: "All around him, he felt only absence, as wide and heavy as a ship" (Page 244). Darisa continues to view the darker aspects of his life in terms of similes and metaphors, and envisions Death itself as "a patient-looking winged man with the unmoving eyes of a thief" (Page 255). However, as he grows up and becomes a solitary hunter, Darisa learns to view absence and death as natural parts of his world.