Under the Feet of Jesus

Under the Feet of Jesus Metaphors and Similes

“Like morning light, passing, the absence of night, just there, his not returning” (14). (Simile)

The narrator compares Estrella's father disappearing to the slow transition from morning to night. Viramontes' language stresses the gradual nature of the protagonist's realization. Estrella does not suddenly realize her father is not returning; instead, the knowledge slowly dawns on her. The comparison also highlights the commonplace nature of parental absence; a disappearing father is no more strange or shocking than the coming dawn.

“The sack slowly grew larger and heavier like the swelling child within her” (51). (Simile)

As Petra works picking cotton, her sack grows heavier and heavier. The author compares it to her unborn child, suggesting that, like the bulging bag, children are burdens. Indeed, Estrella soon climbs inside the sack, becoming a literal burden as her mother carries her and the cotton through the field. Though fathers may disappear, in the novel mothers are tied to their children and family. Having a child represents a tremendous responsibility. Though she genuinely loves her children, Petra struggles under the burden of feeding, clothing, and cleaning them.

“The driver moved closer to the wagon’s rear bumper while a few of the men stood like pallbearers on either side of the wagon” (134). (Simile)

A truck full of laborers arrives to help the stranded family free their car from the mud. As Alejo lies in the back, desperately ill, the men surround the car. By invoking such a morbid image, the author suggests Alejo's possible death; in the simile he is essentially a corpse and the car becomes a coffin. His final fate is unknown, but the comparison remains disturbing. Estrella doesn't consider her friend's possible death until later in the night, yet the reader is reminded before his visit to the clinic.

“She wore too much red lipstick, too much perfume and asked too many questions and seemed too clean, too white just like the imitation cotton” (141). (Simile)

Petra attempts to articulate what bothers her about the nurse, comparing her to imitation cotton. Like man-made cotton, the nurse's careful facade is unnatural and manufactured. Her beauty is dependent on cosmetics: lipstick and perfume. Her cleanliness is aggressive; nothing natural is pure white or perfectly clean. All these elements convince Petra the nurse is disingenuous; she is more invested in her facade, than in helping the family.

"She felt like two Estrellas” (150). (Simile)

At the clinic, Estrella takes radical action to save Alejo's life. In that moment she cannot reconcile the dutiful daughter who respects authority with the powerful and direct leader she has become. Briefly disassociating, Estrella feels she contains two separate people. This feeling speaks to the intensity of her transformation. Estrella is nothing like the girl she is expected to be. The person who saved Alejo feels like a completely different entity to her normal identity