Ann Beattie's Janus Symbolism

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In the short story “Janus”, Ann Beattie uses strong displays of symbolism to lead the reader into the personal life of the protagonist, Andrea. The author digs deep into the loneliness that Andrea’s life conveys, using a simple bowl as her main tool. The bowl can be seen as a symbol for the life that Andrea leads, or as a symbol for the world that she lives in, the world that she describes as “full of tricks.” Andrea’s life seems to revolve around the bowl. As a real estate agent, Andrea uses the bowl to trick people into buying a home. She even states that “She was sure that the bowl had brought her luck (281.)” Andrea even wished that the bowl was an “animate object” so that she could “thank it (282).” The author shows us here just how connected Andrea is to this bowl. Further evidence is conveyed when the narrator states “What she believed was that it (the bowl) was something she loved (282.)” It is not until towards the end of the story that the author lets the reader in on the reasons why Andrea is in love with this bowl. “She had first seen the bowl several years earlier, at a crafts fair she had visited in half secret, with her lover (283).”At this point in the story, the reader is now given a concrete reason as to why Andrea is so attached to the bowl. The reader is lead to immediately think that the bowl is connected to her past affair. Also at this point, the reader is able to connect the bowl with the loneliness that Andrea feels throughout the story. Past sentences such as “the bowl is meant to be empty,(281)” “she never talked to him (her husband) about the bowl,(282)” and “She felt like rushing past the frowning woman and seizing her bowl,(281)” prove that the bowl is the main element in Andreas life. It is the only thing she cares so deeply for, even over her husband. The author’s use of textual context helps the reader develop the week relationship between Andrea and her husband. Not only does Andrea refuse to talk to her...
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