When a reader picks up Cather's story, he or she might expect that it is about an actual diamond mine. However, as the narrator illustrates, the title is a metaphor, a figure of speech that is used to represent something else. This metaphor is explained a few paragraphs into the story, when the narrator overhears someone say of the opera singer, "That woman's a diamond mine." The narrator, who is "an old friend of Cressida Garnet," is "sorry to hear that mining operations were to be begun again." When the narrator says this, she further explains what the metaphor means, illustrating that in the mind of the public and Cressida's own family, the opera singer is not a woman. Instead, she is an object, which can and will be "mined," stripping away Cressida's energy, money, and ultimately her life itself. This is not the only metaphor used to describe the opera singer. When the narrator is talking about Poppas, she says that he was the only one of the group "who understood the sources of her fortune," a fact that Cressida's family knows, so consequently, he is the only one who is able "to proclaim sanctuary for the goose that laid the golden eggs."
The Diamond Mine