Symbol and Scholarship Jacket

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A symbol is a specific word, idea or object that may stand for ideas, values, persons or ways of life. The personal narratives “The Scholarship Jacket" by Marta Salinas, "The Jacket" by Gary Soto and "Vinnie's Jacket" by Anna Nussbaum all have a jacket as the central symbol. In each of these works, however, the jacket represents very different things. For Marta Salinas in "The Scholarship Jacket", the jacket symbolizes eight years of hard work and expectation. Throughout the narrator's life, she had been working hard to achieve academic excellence in hopes of receiving the scholarship jacket. Marta hopes to follow her older sister's footsteps in earning this award. However, as graduation draws near she overhear a discussion about the jacket between Mr. Boone and Mr. Schmidt, two of her professors. Marta then realizes the jacket was going to be given to Joann because "Joann's father is not only on the Board, but he owns the only store in town” ( 6). Marta is furious and believes the administration is being unjust. She turns to her wise grandfather for advice. He believes "if you pay for it, it's not a scholarship jacket" (19) He then asks Marta "What does a scholarship jacket mean?" (17) He helps Marta to see the scholarship jacket for what it truly is. After Marta speaks to her grandpa, she continues to desire the jacket. Coming from a family of eight, Marta and her family have struggled financially. During her childhood, Marta was unable to participate in extracurricular activities in school because her father was a laborer who couldn't even afford food for his children. She was sent to live with her grandparents where she realizes she can only escape poverty by educating herself. "I had been a straight A student since the first grade." In the long run Marta's hard-work and dedication to her studies ensures her success. "The Scholarship Jacket" shows that anyone can overcome a conflict to achieve success. As Khalil Gibran once said, "Work is love made...
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