One of the most salient features of the narration in this book is the continual use of similes and metaphors to establish visual imagery. These examples of figurative language not only create a good mental picture of the scenes and their characters but also build our understanding of Griet herself: the way in which she describes things and people, often making comparisons to objects in her home and town, reveals how insightful and observant she is.
Let's consider some good examples.
1. When Catharina first meets Griet, this woman has "tiny blond curls" that "hung about her forehead like bees." This is Griet's internal description of Catharina, portraying her as tall and beautiful yet disheveled. Her choice of words in that visual description provides for the readers the same sense of nervousness and wariness around Catharina that Griet herself seems to have. Through this comparison, we understand that Griet senses in Catharina something slightly dangerous or intimidating.
2. Griet describes the scene at the Market Square, comparing the "narrow tower" of the New Church where her family belongs to "a stone birdcage." This striking image not only helps us imagine the church itself, but it also helps us notice Griet's eye for detail and her understanding of religion as something that confines us.
3. Later, Griet sees Tanneke for the first time and mentally notes that her eyes are "light blue, as if she had caught the sky in them." This fanciful simile helps us understand Griet's eye for beauty: in an otherwise dowdy, ugly woman, a spark of beauty has been noted by Griet.
The examples above can be considered masterful uses of figurative language because they go beyond establishing visual imagery: they reveal more about who the characters are and how they think and relate to each other.