Symbolism in the Short Story

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  • Topic: Death, Fiction, Symbol
  • Pages : 3 (875 words )
  • Download(s) : 1664
  • Published : November 14, 2012
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The theme of the short story “I Used to Live Here Once” by Jean Rhys (1976) is death and the journey home. Without implying literal death, this story is characterized as an allegory, which is described by Clugston (2010) as “a fictional work in which the setting, characters, plot and other elements are all symbols, each conveying an aspect of an abstract moral, religious, or social concept.” Another narrative element this story contains is the use of a Motif, which is a recurring theme in a literary work. (Clugston, 2010) The motif in the story is her journey through her past life; the symbols associated with death are recurring as well. From the beginning to the end of the story, the details and the plot are all in the symbolism, from the setting of the story and where she is at, to how the narrator perceives changes and makes note of important characteristics of the symbols that indicate death, or a perspective beyond death. The description for the theme of this story will be identified by its elements of common symbolisms in nature, and in colors that are associated with death and dying, the recurring theme of her journey through her past life, and recurring symbolism; and a shift in point of view from the perspective of the narrator.

The beginning of the story, I Used to Live Here Once (Rhys, 1976) starts with the speaker of the story who begins her journey at a river. The river is a symbol of the flow of human experiences, the journey through her past life. She remembers every stone she once crossed on, which ones was safe and which ones that was not. The journey continues as she arrives on a familiar road, making observations like, the road was wider than it used to be and making note of how the work had been done carelessly, but nevertheless it was the same road where she had felt extraordinarily happy. (para.2) As she is walking along the road, this is where the point of view starts to reveal the symbols of death. She notices something that she...
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