Short Story Essay: Symbolism of the "Hand"

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Symbolism is used a lot in everyday life. People see many symbolic objects while just driving down the road, like the golden arches of McDonald’s. They see them while watching commercials, like the cavemen in GEICO commercials. People see symbolism in movies, like the biblical references in the Matrix trilogy. It is a very popular tool used by writers and poets. The short story “The Hand” for example is full of symbolism.

First, the story starts with the wife lying in bed nestled against her husband. The narrator shares the wife’s sense of surrealism. She goes in depth to describe the positioning of their bodies. The wife first notices the husband as being a, “handsome, blond young man, recently widowed, good at tennis and rowing” almost as being a perfect person. She also is reveling in the fact that he had only been widowed one short month ago, and now he was happily married with her. She is too overjoyed and happy to sleep. The wife begins to admire all the little things about him; his eyelashes, mouth, skin color, etc. She then turns her head and notices his hand. When she begins describing his hand her thought processes change drastically.

Second, she starts by describing his hand as massive. She is startled by the fact that his hand is larger than her head. That alone could have a couple different symbols. It describes how powerful he is or it even could describe his power over her. That could easily be assumed because of the year that the story was written in, which was the 1920s. Women play a much different role in modern society than they did in that society. Then she describes his finger nails telling us how they are polished. This could be a sign to show us how wealthy he is. This goes hand in hand with the sports he played. Rowing and tennis were generally played by the rich and wealthy. He then stretches his hand out and postures it to where it looks apelike. She is so disturbed by the sudden change that she interjects. She also describes the...
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