Let us remember that a simile is an example of figurative language where two things are compared to one another by using the word "like" or "as." It is different from a metaphor, which likewise compares two things, but asserts a direct comparison without those two words. Examining this text therefore, there are two main places where similes are used. The first is when Pahom first hears about the Bashir tribe who are selling so much land for so little. The dealer who tells him about this describes them, saying:
"They are as simple as sheep, and land can be got almost for nothing."
Note how the comparison here emphasises the simplicity of the Bashir tribe, suggesting they are somewhat stupid and have no understanding of the value of their land.
Secondly, when Pahom views the land he hopes to gain from the Bashir, similes are used to describe its fertility:
Pahom's eyes glistened: It was all virgin soil, as flat as the palm of your hand, as black as the seed of a poppy, and in the hollows different kinds of grasses grew breast high.
These comparisons all serve to highlight the fertile nature of the land, making his desperation to gain as much of it as possible during his day's walk acute.