Importance of Symbolism in Timothy Findley's "War".

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Young people often do not know what to expect of the future. They do not know how to act when something unexpected comes along, and their actions are based on what they do know; usually limited, biased information. This idea is central to the short story, ʺWar,ʺ by Timothy Findley. The young boy, Neil Cable, narrates the day he found out his father had joined the army. He speaks of his actions, feelings, and confusion surrounding that day. At first glance, his actions are all too often misinterpreted as violence and hatred, but after careful consideration, one can see that they are merely his way of dealing with the troubling news. He has not experienced enough in his lifetime to have a true understanding of war, and acts upon what he does know. In the short story, ʺWarʺ, by Timothy Findley, the young boy’s image of war and actions throughout are explained through the use of symbolism. Many symbols in the story give the reader an idea of the war that Neil pictures in his mind. He sees the war to be incredibly violent, and full of blood and anger. This image is shown through the mention of trenches. The word is used repeatedly in the story, suggesting that Neil is very much aware of what happens at war. When Neil is hiding from his father, he builds a trench out of hay in the barn, suggesting that subconsciously, he is trying to prepare his father for what is to come. He thinks that if he can show his father what it is like to be in the army, maybe he will back out. As a young boy, he knows only what he has seen or heard about, which focuses on the violence and danger of going to war. This idea sparks fear within Neil, resulting in anger and rebellion.

Another important symbol that shows Neil’s image of war is the stones that he finds at Arthur Robinson’s summer cottage. They are red stones, and he later uses them to throw at his father, trying to keep him away. The stones may symbolize bullets, making the confrontation between Neil and his...
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