Symbolism in the Secret Lion

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Symbolism in the Secret Lion

By | December 2005
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Symbolism in "The Secret Lion"
"The Secret Lion," written by Alberto Rios, is a short story rich in symbolism. The lion, or more specifically a secret lion, the arroyo, or river, and the grinding ball are all symbols used in the story to reinforce the theme of coming of age. The first and most obvious symbol in the story is the lion, or more specifically, the secret lion. It is not a literal lion. The lion of the story represents things that are big and the secret of it is that it is unexplained, or even ignored. It suggests change, and it is a change that is big and confusing. The secret lion is a symbol of coming of age and understanding that with change there is loss, and to hold onto something, it must be secret. The narrator explains that when he was twelve, "something happened that we didn't have a name for, but it was there nonetheless like a lion, and roaring, roaring that way the biggest things do."(43). This young boys' life has all changed, and everything is different. However, despite its roar, the lion remained "secret," not spoken of or explained. Similar to the distress and misunderstanding of coming of age. Another symbol, and one equally as important to the texture of the story, is the arroyo, or river. Literally, it is just a river and a place to go, but symbolically it is a source of rebellion and all the things they aren‘t supposed to do or know about. They are not supposed to go there and swim in the water or yell bad words to which they don‘t know the meaning. "It was the one place we (he and friend Sergio) were not supposed to go. So we did. This was, after all, what junior high had at least shown us." (43). Coming of age is a time of rebellion, and the river symbolizes a way, and a place, to rebel. It also symbolizes the many discoveries they will make before they are grown up, and more importantly the changing and evolution of perception. The arroyo does not change throughout the years, but the view of what it is does. As...

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