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Rivers & Roads...

Phoenix-The roles and symbolism of rivers and roads in Of Mice and Men, Fahrenheit 451, and Divergent.
by

Elizabeth Miller

on 23 May 2014

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Transcript of Rivers & Roads...

The Final Destination
"It's amazing how many different roads we can take, but they all lead home."
-Jewel E. Ann
The Beginning
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." -Lao Tzu
Water
"Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere." -Emma Smith
Roads & Trails
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." -Robert Frost
Rivers & Roads
Divergent
The beginning of Beatrice's journey was at the edge of the train tracks, where she had to jump onto the moving train. When Beatrice "threw herself sideways" into the train, it was the first act of courage she had to perform as a new Dauntless initiate (50). After jumping on, the train took her to the Dauntless compound, which would be where her learning and development took place.
Of Mice and Men
George and Lennie were first pictured in a clearing "by the green pool" (2). This is where they set up camp for the night, starting a fire and cooking beans, and then talked about their goals for the future and the plan if Lennie got into trouble. This place marks the beginning of their journey.
Fahrenheit 451
In
Fahrenheit 451
, rivers and roads do not play a significant role in the plot until near the end of the book. Therefore, the true beginning of Montag's journey along these rivers and roads is at Faber's house, a place of sanctuary and faith in which Montag hoped to "refuel his fast draining belief in his own ability to survive" (118).
Divergent
In
Divergent
, the main body of water is the river at the bottom of the chasm. The chasm and the river together represent danger and ultimately death, with the steep drop off and "vicious waters" (307). The perils of the chasm first became evident when Tris was dangled off of the edge, but then were affirmed when Al committed suicide by "jumping into the chasm" (307).
Of Mice and Men
In
Of Mice and Men
, water represents sanctuary. At the beginning, George told Lennie to "follow the river" if he were to get into trouble, so the river acts as a guide to safety for Lennie (15). Even at the end of the book as George struggled to shoot Lennie, George told Lennie that there "ain't gonna be no more trouble" (106). When George finally killed Lennie by the same pool at which their journey began, he did it to save Lennie, and through this act of mercy, Lennie was finally safe from all the danger that he had brought onto himself in the past. The river and the pool lead Lennie to safety and bring him security.
Fahrenheit 451
The river in
Fahrenheit 451
not only provided an escape "from the city and the lights and the chase," but also brought Montag into a "reality that was unreal because it was new" (133). While this unknown frontier was frightening, the prospect of a new life and the escape from an increasingly discontenting world also brought Montag "a sudden peacefulness," a feeling that was impossible to experience in the rushed, chaotic lifestyle found in the city (133). It represents peace, internal and external.
Divergent
The railroads are the main method of transportation used by the Dauntless and often symbolize Tris' development throughout her journey. For example, when Tris first jumped onto a train after choosing to become Dauntless, she called herself Beatrice and still seemed to abide by her Abnegation lifestyle. However, once she reached the compound, she decided that she could "be remade [there]" and chose a new name, Tris (60). The train ride signified the way she had literally and metaphorically left her home behind for a new world. The train also served as an escape from the city after the war broke out, carrying Tris and others to "the forests and fields" beyond the city gates, where they could find safety from the corrupt goverment leaders (485).
Of Mice and Men
At the beginning of the book, before reaching the clearing by the river, George and Lennie walked "jes' a little stretch down the highway" (4). The highway led them to the river, which marks the beginning of their journey. The fact that they had to walk rather than ride the bus to the ranch demonstrates how difficult and laborious it was to escape each bad situation Lennie got them into and how much work it took to find a new job, only to once again be forced to escape, putting them into an unhappy cycle of uncertainty and distress.
Fahrenheit 451
When Montag reached the railroad, he was certain that it would lead him to wherever he was meant to be. It was "the magic charm" which would guide him on his journey to the new life he was pursuing (138). When Montag suddenly learned, with no proof or reason other than intuition, that "Clarisse had walked [there]," it symbolizes his own development as he metaphorically and literally followed in the footsteps of his early mentor who first inspired and challenged him (138).
Connections
"Life's just a bunch of accidents, connected by one perfect end." -Daniel C. Tomas
Each character ultimately finds themselves with some sort of treasure, being safety, freedom, enlightenment, or happiness.
THEMES
THEMES
THEMES
THEMES
While the river and the pool were meant to be a place of security for Lennie to run back to in times of trouble or danger, George found that it was impossible to keep Lennie safe from the consequences of the crime Lennie has committed this time. This parallels the impossibility of the American dream and specifically George and Lennie's dream of owning their own farm, and George was finally forced to give up the ideals he and Lennie had clung to for so long as reality and fate ran their course.
The river is the passageway between the city, where Montag was being hunted, and the country, where he found a group of scholars to live and carry out his new mission with, but it can also symbolize a bridge between ignorance and knowledge. The plot epitomizes the importance of knowledge and thinking, and how ignorance results in discontent and unfulfillment. The river connects the uneducated city of immediate pleasure with the countryside and the wise, contemplative men.
Photo Sources
http://84d1f3.medialib.glogster.com/yomkai/media/2d/2d61bbf307d3bd1ac7cc560e3846807e54005ca5/of-mice-and-men-rabbit.jpg
http://themeparkinvestigator.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/ak-tree-of-life-2.jpg
http://hdwallcomp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Beautiful-Traintracks-Landscape-Wallpaper.jpg
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http://sweetclipart.com/multisite/sweetclipart/files/sailboat.png
http://content.mycutegraphics.com/graphics/frog/lily-pad-in-pond.png
http://www.clipartlord.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/house7.png
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/612j985-B3L._SL1500_.jpg
http://military.phillipmartin.info/wh_feudalism.gif
http://www.clker.com/cliparts/R/U/y/n/6/x/dove-of-peace-hi.png
http://www.itsachat.com/mynetwork/blogs/uploads/2013-05-21-14-42-49_rip.png
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_VGuTbpnp-ZQ/S-JWr7uweCI/AAAAAAAABn8/fRNiZdzUH-c/s1600/Clip+art+house.jpg
http://www.clker.com/cliparts/1/4/c/5/1194984609285255522police_man_ganson.svg.med.png
http://cathtech.pbworks.com/f/1237755139/clip_art_covered_wagon.png
http://www.ribbonrail.com/art/images/tunnel.gif
http://www.careerealism.com/home/jtodonnell/careerealism.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/03.28.11-6-Signs-it%E2%80%99s-Time-to-Change-Careers-Featured.png
While the river symbolizes a bridge between knowledge and ignorance, the railroad represents the path to wisdom and enlightenment. It signifies the development of a person, specifically Montag, as he followed the tracks. Many of the characters who had found some sort of insight, such as the scholars living in the country and Clarisse, had walked along the railroad at some point, and Montag began his journey toward the city and toward his new, enlightened life.
The way that the railroads, specifically riding the train along the railroads, represent Tris' development throughout her journey helps demonstrate her evolving character and emerging individuality, which is essential to the book. In a society where conformity to set behavioral patterns and ideals are not only expected but required and a person's faction controls the way they think and act, independent thinking and diversity within factions are a threat to the order of civilization. Therefore, Tris' divergence and her resulting nonconforming identity play a major role in the plot, assisted by the development demonstrated through the symbolism of the railroads.
Themes
Many of the themes in each of the books are interrelated, connecting the plots and characters to each other through their situations, motivations, and lessons learned. In
Of Mice and Men
, a significant theme is the importance of friendship and companionship as George and Lennie depended on each other throughout the story. Similarly, Montag relied heavily on Faber when he decided he didn't want to burn books anymore, and their alliance strengthened each other. In
Divergent
, independent thought and individuality against a society of conformity played a significant role in the Tris' development. Likewise, when Montag began to think independently and abandoned the beliefs of the firemen, he began to grow as an individual and found enlightenment in his newfound knowledge.
Water
In
Of Mice and Men
,
Fahrenheit 451
, and
Divergent
, water represents or directly provides an escape from something. In
Of Mice and Men
, water signifies sanctuary for Lennie through the river and the pool and an escape from the trouble and danger he got himself into. In
Fahrenheit 451
, the river provided an escape from the chase for Montag, transporting him away from the danger and giving him camouflage in the night. In
Divergent
, the chasm was used as an escape for Al from his guilt and despair when he jumped off the ledge and into the river below. In all three books, water symbolizes safety from oppressive circumstances.
Roads & Trails
Roads and railroads were used in all three novels to demonstrate development or provide a path or transportation into new situations. In
Of Mice and Men
, the highway took George and Lennie away from the dangerous circumstances in Weed to the Salinas River, which marked the beginning of their journey in the story. In
Fahrenheit 451
, the train tracks were used not only as a guide for Montag to the scholars in the country, but also to show growth and enlightenment in several characters. In
Divergent
, the railroad provides an outlet of escape from the city after war broke out, but it also leads Tris into the new frontier of Dauntless and demonstrate her evolving character. In all three stories, the symbolism of the roads and railroads help show the reader the movement and growth of the main characters.
While the river symbolizes a bridge between knowledge and ignorance, the railroad represents the path to wisdom and enlightenment. It signifies the development of a person, specifically Montag, as he followed the tracks. Many of the characters who had found some sort of insight, such as the scholars living in the country and Clarisse, had walked along the railroad at some point, and Montag began his journey toward the city and toward his new, enlightened life.
The way that the railroads, specifically riding the train along the railroads, represent Tris' development throughout her journey helps demonstrate her evolving character and emerging individuality, which is essential to the book. In a society where conformity to set behavioral patterns and ideals are not only expected but required and a person's faction controls the way they think and act, independent thinking and diversity within factions are a threat to the order of civilization. Therefore, Tris' divergence and her resulting nonconforming identity play a major role in the plot, assisted by the development demonstrated through the symbolism of the railroads.
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