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Symbolism in Salvage the Bones

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Symbolism in Salvage the Bones

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  • April 14, 2013
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Emily Edenfield
Dr. Mattingly
Composition 2
March 13, 2013
Symbolism in “Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward, in her novel “Salvage the Bones”, has told the story of a family that lived in Mississippi when the incident of Hurricane Katrina occurred in 2005, getting back to her own memories of the Hurricane which she experienced in De Lisle, Mississippi. With the use of provocative symbolism throughout the novel, Ward has very interestingly narrated how the family suffered through the Hurricane, and how they spent their lives without any concern for the future. This paper probes into the symbolism and metaphors Ward used in the novel.

The greatest symbolism that the reader finds in the novel is Esch’s body. Esch is the eldest sister of her siblings. She gets pregnant with Manny’s child, and the reader finds that she views the world through her bodily existence. She wants to touch the world, see it, hear it, taste it, and smell it, in order to love it. The bodily existence of everything is important to her. She says, “For though I’m small, I know many things/ And my body is an endless eye/ Through which, unfortunately, I see everything” (Ward 66). Esch calls her body an endless eye, with which she sees hunger, poverty, dog fights, devastation, accidents, thefts, and finally, the Hurricane. She has seen how it is being motherless, and now she is experiencing the pregnancy from a man who has fallen in love with another woman. So, her body has also made her seen un-faithfulness from somebody she loved. She describes her brother’s muscles, dogfights, and hunger in such a descriptive language that the reader feels as if he is seeing over her shoulders into her world. The reader finds that Esch narrates about her world through instinctive vision, making a blend of what she sees around her and her instinctive thoughts, and describes that blend through symbolic, evocative language.

The reader finds metaphors in Esch’s language, sometimes so...