The Day They Burned the Books

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The Day They Burned the Books is a captivating story that uses symbolism and imagery to complement the themes of racism, self-acceptance, and the unkindness of love. Jean Rhys short story is set in the Dominican Republic in the 1900’s just before world war one. At this time, the socioeconomic times in the Dominican Republic were not favourable and very hard on the people who lived there. The narrator tells the story though first person meaning that this person is a participant in this story and is telling it through her eyes but is young and naive. Even though the story is told through a young person’s eyes you still get the major symbols like the books, the burning of the books, the library where the books are read and the racism and abuse behind Mr. and Mrs. Sawyer’s relationship. There are some major images in this story such as the friendship between Eddie and the narrator, the image of Mrs. Sawyer as a woman, and the negative treatment of Mrs. Sawyer.

In the beginning, Mr. Sawyer was paid, given a private income, to leave the country away from his family and go to the Dominican Republic because he gave his family name a bad reputation. He married a woman from the Dominican Republic who is of African American color “never decided why he had chosen to settle in a place he didn’t like and to marry a coloured woman” (2593); they have a boy named Eddie. The first symbol that is significant is the library at which the books are and where Eddie and his friend, the narrator, enjoy reading the books. The library is a symbol of peace and serenity, a place that is quiet. It is also a place to get away from his parents drama. Eddie goes to the library to gain knowledge of the European ways and to find out more about his identity. He also goes to the library to feel closer to his father because they do not really have a relationship, because his father hates his mother because she is of African American descent. He dislikes Mrs. Sawyer because he was forced to leave...
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