Gabriel García Márquez

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What are some metaphors that are used in"Eva is Inside Her Cat"?

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"Eva Is Inside her Cat" is a short story by Gabriel García Márquez in which metaphors communicate action, subtext, style, and tone.

The story opens with the following line:

All of a sudden she noticed that her beauty had fallen all apart on her, that it had begun to pain her physically like a tumor or a cancer.

Later, García Márquez writes that "Her beauty collapsed on her." Beauty is something that typically fades or wanes due to the passage of time and factors of aging. Objects, such as clothing and machines, can literally fall apart. García Márquez crafts a metaphor that compares Eva's beauty to that of a machine or object in her service that has disintegrated, or whose structural integrity has withered to the point where it is ineffective and unusable. García Márquez uses metaphors to compare Eva's beauty to objects that suffer structural damage and collapse; these characterize the ways in which Eva's beauty, though once fundamental to her identity, is now a burden causing pain, stress, and exhaustion as it disintegrates.

García Márquez later writes,

At night, when insomnia stuck its pins into her eyes, she would have liked to be an ordinary woman, without any special attraction.

Marquez personifies the state of insomnia as a monster of sorts that has pins for appendages, or some kind of weapon to wield upon victims like Eva.

In a third example of metaphor, Eva considers how her neighbors might gossip about her disappearance:

The scene was clear to her. The neighbors would arrive and begin to weave comments together—some of them malicious—concerning her disappearance.

The comments of the neighbors are not made of cloth the way actual textiles are made of woven strands of various materials, such as silk, cotton, and wool. Rather, García Márquez describes the process by which the neighbors would construct and distribute a narrative about what happened to Eva based on the state of her room.

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Eva is a woman who suffers from insomnia and finds that her spirit or soul has been somehow mysteriously displaced from her body. While her soul is traveling freeform, it seems to have been put, at least for a time, inside her cat's body.

Marquez uses a variety of metaphors—comparisons that do not use the words like or as—to describe the sensation of being disembodied. From example, Eva compares herself to an "amorphous dot." By this, she means she feels she has no weight, no heft, no substance. As she puts it, she is

bodiless, floating, drifting over an absolute nothingness.

Eva also likens her experience to being at "the top of a precipice." This offers a good visual image for the somewhat disorienting feeling of looking over at something from high above.

She uses a metaphor as well when she compares her thought processes to traveling "down along the damp, dark passageways." This, too, offers a visual image that helps us understand that her thoughts are unpleasant.

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A metaphor is a comparison of two unalike things where one thing is said to be the other without using like or as. Early in the narrative, the narrator says of Eva,

At night, when insomnia stuck its pins into her eyes, she would have liked to be an ordinary woman, without any special attraction.

Here, insomnia is compared, via metaphor, to something that would stick pins into someone's eyes, some kind of vicious villain or tormentor. She suffers deeply because she is beautiful, and she likens her beauty to insects that live within her. She thinks,

It was no longer beauty, it was a sickness that had to be halted, that had to be cut off in some bold and radical way.

Here, beauty is compared to a disease, like gangrene, that would require being cut away to be gotten rid of. Further,

She still remembered the endless hours spent on that bed sown with hot needles.

Her bed is not actually filled with hot needles, but her mattress is compared to a bed of hot needles to show how she is affected by her beauty and the attention it draws.

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A metaphor is a direct comparison, when you compare something to something else by saying it IS that something.  For example, Eva is not literally inside her cat.  It’s a metaphor.

Specific metaphors are figures of speech used in a story to bring in deeper meaning.  Here’s another example from the beginning of the story.

She still remembered the weight of the privilege she had borne over her body during adolescence, which she had dropped now--who knows where?

Using the words “weight of the privilege” makes this a metaphor.  She is not carrying around an actual privilege, because privilege is an idea.

She had to drop that useless attribute of her personality somewhere; as she turned a corner, somewhere in the outskirts. Or leave it behind on the coatrack of a second-rate restaurant like some old useless coat.

Here’s another example, because you can’t actually leave your attitude on a coatrack.

Metaphors like this make the story more meaningful because the reader is caught by the images and takes time to think about the comparison.  They are make the story more poetic.


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