An excellent simile is used in chapter 5 to describe the behavior of Joe Starks. Joe makes a lot of the townspeople uncomfortable because he is always putting on airs and acting like he is better than everyone else. The townspeople feel belittled and unsure of themselves. They start to lose their confidence and are in awe of Joe because of the way that he acts. They feel that this behavior is bad enough when it comes from white people, but this classism is even worse when it comes from another black person.
The narrator says "It was like seeing your sister turn into a 'gator. A familiar strangeness. You keep seeing your sister in the 'gator and the 'gator in your sister, and you'd rather not" (Hurston, 48). The townspeople think that they understand Joe because he is black just like they are, but when he starts acting like he is of a higher social class it is unnerving to them. They have seen something comfortable and familiar all of a sudden turn into something dangerous and strange.
(The entire section contains 2 answers and 651 words.)