"The holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps.” (94)
This quote, thought by Megan, could apply either to her experiences or Rachel's. Both women have painful experiences earlier in life - for Megan the birth and death of Libby and for Rachel her inability to get pregnant - that they are trying to get past through therapy and various kinds of self-medication. This quote has a rare tone of acceptance, as Megan often narrates in a restless, frenzied tone, especially when thinking about her past.
“It feels like coming home - not just to any home, but a childhood home, a place left behind a lifetime ago; it's the familiarity of walking up stairs and knowing exactly which one is going to creak.” (65)
This simile is interesting because it is not so far from the truth. As Rachel returns to the street where she lived during her marriage just a few years before, she feels a sense of returning home. However, rather than simply feel nostalgia and perhaps emotional pain, she feels a connection to the place as if it was her childhood home. This comparison adds to the sense of her not fitting in, as if her life has gone on too much for her to return to this place, and yet there is a comforting familiarity present as well.
“You’re like one of those dogs, the unwanted ones that have been mistreated all their lives. You can kick them and kick them, but they’ll still come back to you, cringing and wagging their tails." (316)
Once Tom drops his facade as the perfect husband, revealing himself as a liar and generally callous person, he is especially harsh with his descriptions of women. Tom describes Rachel as a dog that will always return even after being kicked, an unflattering comparison that shames her, though it does not reflect the ways in which he has teased her and allowed her to have hope since their divorce.
“Failure cloaked me like a mantle, it overwhelmed me, dragged me under and I gave up hope.” (78)
In this quote, Rachel describes the way she felt after she and Tom tried unsuccessfully to have a baby naturally and through IVF. Hawkins often uses strong imagery and figurative language to describe the overwhelming nature of negative emotions. As a result of these overwhelming feelings, Rachel began to drink, something that continued to drag her under for the following four to five years.
“She has her fingers curled tightly around his forefinger and I have hold of her perfect pink foot, and I feel as though fireworks are going off in my chest." (108)
Anna thinks this quote in her first section of narration regarding her child with Tom. As pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood are major themes in the novel, this simile describes the pleasure of having a child in a way almost painfully joyful since the reader is already aware of Rachel's inability to start a family with the same man.
A simile is a figure of speech that compares two different things in an interesting way. The object of a simile is to spark an interesting connection in a reader's or listener's mind. A simile is one of the most common forms of figurative language. Similes can be found just about anywhere from poems to song lyrics and even in everyday conversations.
Similes and metaphors are often confused with one another. The main difference between a simile and metaphor is that a simile uses the words "like" or "as" to draw a comparison and a metaphor simply states the comparison without using "like" or "as". An example of a simile is: She is as innocent as an angel. An example of a metaphor is: She is an angel.
Similes in Everyday Language
Similes are used in literature to make writing more vivid and powerful. In everyday speech they can be used to convey meaning quickly and effectively, as many commonly used expressions are similes. For example, when someone says “He is as busy as a bee,” it means he is working hard, as bees are known to be extremely busy. If someone says "I am as snug as a bug in a rug," they mean that they feel very comfortable and cozy or are tucked up tight in bed.
Some other well-known similes you will often hear are:
- As cute as a kitten
- As happy as a clam
- As light as a feather
- As blind as a bat
- As bold as brass
- As bright as a button
- As shiny as a new pin
- As cold as ice
- As common as dirt
- As cool as a cucumber
- As hard as nails
- As hot as hell
- As innocent as a lamb
- As tall as a giraffe
- As tough as nails
- As white as a ghost
- As sweet as sugar
- As black as coal
As with a lot of figurative language, when talking to someone from another region or who's not speaking in their native language they might not get the meaning of many similes.
Similes Add Depth to Language
Similes can make our language more descriptive and enjoyable. Writers, poets, and songwriters make use of similes often to add depth and emphasize what they are trying to convey to the reader or listener. Similes can be funny, serious, mean, or creative.
Following are some more examples of similes regularly used in writing:
- You were as brave as a lion.
- They fought like cats and dogs.
- He is as funny as a barrel of monkeys.
- This house is as clean as a whistle.
- He is as strong as an ox.
- Your explanation is as clear as mud.
- Watching the show was like watching grass grow.
- That is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
- This contract is as solid as the ground we stand on.
- That guy is as nutty as a fruitcake.
- Don’t just sit there like a bump on a log.
- Well, that went over like a lead balloon.
- They are as different as night and day.
- She is as thin as a rake.
- Last night, I slept like a log.
- This dress is perfect because it fits like a glove.
- They wore jeans, which made me stand out like a sore thumb.
- My love for you is as deep as the ocean.
- I am so thirsty that my throat is as dry as a bone.
Examples of similes can be seen in classic literature, such as in the poem "A Red, Red Rose" by Robert Burns:
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.
Another example of a simile can be found in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. When Romeo talks to Mercutio before the Capulets' party, he makes the following comparison about love:
"Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn."
Similes can often be found in song lyrics, as they let you convey deeper meaning with fewer words. For example:
- "My heart is like an open highway." - "It's My Life," Bon Jovi
- "It’s been a hard days night, and I've been working like a dog." - "A Hard Day's Night," The Beatles
- "And it seems to me you lived your life, Like a candle in the wind." - "Candle in the Wind," Elton John
- "You're as cold as ice." - "Cold As Ice," Foreigner
- "Steady as a preacher, Free as a weed" - "American Honey," Lady Antebellum
You can even find similes in popular ads and company slogans such as:
- Chevrolet: "Built Like A Rock"
- Doritos: "Tastes Like Awesome Feels"
- State Farm: "Like A Good Neighbor"
- Almond Joy / Mounds: "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't."
- Honda: "The Honda's ride is as smooth as a gazelle in the Sahara. It's comfort is like a hug from Nana."
Get Creative with Similes
Similes are a great tool to use in creative language and are fun to come up with. They not only make what you are writing or saying more interesting, but they can often intrigue the reader as well. When creating your own similes, watch out for cliches though and try to go beyond the obvious comparisons.
For more examples, check out our Simile Flashcards or fun list of similes at Simile Examples for Kids.