The Symbolism of the Journey: A Comparison of Two Short Stories

Topics: Short story, Fiction, Poetry Pages: 7 (3041 words) Published: December 16, 2013


The Symbolism of the Journey: A Comparison of Two Short Stories ENG 125
September 13, 2013

The Symbolism of the Journey: A Comparison of Two Short Stories
I chose to write about the symbolism between the stories, “I Used to Live Here Once” by Jean Rhys and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost because the comparisons between these two stories are uncanny as they both use symbolism in two distinct ways. “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is a poem and “I Used to Live Here Once” by Jean Rhys is a short story that details a journey, which can be physical, mental, emotional, or even spiritual. Once you embark upon a journey, you are guaranteed to learn something along the way, but it is up to you to decide to use what you have learned. This paper will compare and contrast the content, form, and style of “The Road Not Taken” and “I Used To Live Here Once” and analyze the ways in which each conveys the symbols of “The Journey”.

A journey is defined as a “passage or progress from one stage to another: the journey to success” (Dictionary.com online dictionary, n.d.). These two stories allows you to place yourself in the characters shoes to see and feel the story that is being told through the character eyes as you watch it unfold. The journey that is being told by Jean Rhys is definitely one that can be related to by anyone that has made a visit to their childhood home minus the death. It is also easy to relate to Frost’s character because I have been at several crossroads in my life and have often chosen the road less taken, which has yielded great and not so great outcomes. These writings are obviously taking place outside on a road, indicating that a journey is in the works. Although both stories use imagery and symbolism, they are extremely different in their message. Rhys’ story uses imagery to help detail the spiritual journey of a woman whose reality comes to a very climactic ending when she realizes that she is no longer alive. Frost’s story regales us with his version of imagery in which his character learns that it’s not always important which road you take; as long as you choose one, you will experience the life that come with it. The character is trying to let us know that it is very easy to make a life-changing decision based on an outer appearance of what we see available for ourselves. Both of these stories revealed something that was not known to the characters before the journey began. As each of these stories develops, the characters do not portray the same mindset towards their paths.

In both poetry and short stories, a theme is intended and conveyed through the author’s works. Literary elements such as rhythm, rhyme, and tone differentiate poems from short stories and dramatic works. However, there are some similarities between short stories and poetry which include figures of speech, settings, foreshadowing and conflict. These allow the reader to connect to the author and their works. Settings are important because it depicts “the time or place in which fictional events occur. It puts boundaries around the action and defines the environment in which conflicts can be witnessed and character development observed. Setting may also have a social dimension in which particular local customs, dress, or speech provide a framework for understanding the characters and their interactions” (Clugston, 2010). The one major similarity between these two works is the absence of a plot. Our text defines a plot as “a dynamic element in fiction, a sequence of interrelated, conflicting actions and events that typically build to a climax and bring about a resolution” (Clugston, 2010). Poems are written utilizing verses or stanzas which cause the reader to experience an emotion. Short stories on the other hand are fictional writings that details cause and effect and it is shorter than a novel. “The Road Not Taken” has four stanzas of five lines in which a rhyme scheme is...


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Borroff, M. (1992). Sound symbolism as drama in the poetry of Robert Frost, 107(1), 131-144. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/462806
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