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Symbols in Literature

Anna H

on 5 April 2017

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Transcript of Symbolism

Symbols &

How do we find symbols?
What are Symbols?
Why do authors
use Symbols?

A Literary Device that is
used to send
a **DEEPER** message
Now Let's Practice
A symbol is an object or image that stands for something deeper
Symbols *represent* other ideas
Look at these examples...
to send a message to readers without
having to tell them directly
to make writing expressive & interesting
to communicate a theme
a U.S. flag
represents freedom
a heart
What does this represent?

What does this represent?

Completion of something
The end / death


Rebirth / Renewal

I'm sure you have some ideas about this one!
religious meaning?
What does this represent?
A baby represents innocence, life, purity, hope, rebirth / continuation, unity / marriage
In the story "Little Things," what does the baby represent in context of what is happening to it in the story?
What does this symbol suggest about the bigger meaning of the story?
Symbols can be:
acts / gestures
Pay attention to:
figurative language
-poor baby!
What Symbols Can You Find Looking Back at These Stories?

San Francisco
A & P
The Storm
Rodney Is...
Greasy Lake

It's important to not only identify the symbol but also to explain the meaning attached to the symbol.

Keep in mind that some objects and acts are just what they are--there may not be meaning attached. A tree may just be a tree. Some symbols are so loaded that it's hard to escape associations, especially with religious imagery (cross, snake, etc.).

Some symbols are more obvious than others. Always look beyond the obvious!!!
The Lottery
Part I
Ask Yourself
What are the obvious symbols?
Part II
Read Shirley Jackson's Story "The Lottery". You can find it in your book on pp. 539-543.

Watch the film version in two parts too for toots and giggles! It's old (from 1960s) What symbols are prominent in the story?
Keep in mind
What are the not-so-obvious symbols?
-Black box
-Black dot
-Color Black

What else?
-Characters? (Old Man Warner: What does he represent?)

-Names of characters? (Graves; Summers; Hutchinson)

-Other objects (besides black ones)

-How characters act

Motifs (repetition of symbols)

The black box is an important symbol but what does the condition of the black box suggest about the tradition? That the tradition is falling away? Times are changing? There is other evidence in the story to support this, such as when Mrs. Adams says, "Some places have already quit lotteries."(paragraph 33)
What do these symbols help us to understand about the story?
Can you imagine a story without symbolism? Boring!
In "Little Things" the baby is a symbol of unity--a baby is the product of a union, after all, often (though not always) of a loving one. To the man and woman in the story, the baby becomes nothing more than a value, a means of power, of control. Who can control the other person? Who can get the upper hand? The harm that comes to the baby signifies the end of the union and is a reminder of the state of marriage, which often ends in divorce and with children in extremely difficult circumstances, torn between two different families, with everlasting and far-reaching consequences. This symbol helps us to understand what the author wants us to understand/ take away from the story.
<Reference to Anne Hutchinson?
<the old ways? tradition?
<the three-legged stool?
<(at end of story: "And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles" - paragraph 76)
<the stones?

“San Francisco”
– "Maidy said the body is not the person, that the essence is the person, and that the essence leaves the body behind it, along with the body’s possessions—for example, its watch?"

- "He wouldn't be chasing Georgia through the house, both of them shrieking like pigs, Georgia passing her father like he was a hat-rack, wanting only more of Uncle Baz, Uncle Baz!"

“The Storm”
– "She was in a revelation in that dim, mysterious chamber; as white as the couch she lay upon…her firm elastic flesh…was like a creamy lily that the sun invites to contribute to its breathe and perfume to the undying life of the world."

“A & P”
– "His face was dark gray and his back still, as if he’s just had an injection of iron, and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me from here on in."

“Greasy Lake”
– "There was a sheen of sun on the lake. I looked back. The girl was still standing there, watching us, her shoulders slumped, hand outstretched."
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