Questions tagged [symbolism]

Questions concerning symbolic features in a work of literature. Both symbols and the things they represent can be either tangible or intangible. Not to be confused with the [motif] tag or [meaning] tag. This tag is not to be used for questions about Symbolism as a movement in (mainly French) literature, unless such questions are about the use of symbols. See the tag wiki for more information.

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What does the letter V in Thomas Pynchon's book symbolize?

Obviously, V. is a character in the book, known only by her initial. That initial is also the title of the book, which actually includes the period. But I assume this title/name symbolizes something ...
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115 views

In “Pierre Menard, Author of The Quixote” is Menard an analogy for a critical lens?

In Pierre Menard, Author of The Quixote by Jorge Luis Borges, the narrator of the work talks about how when he read Don Quixote after having been told that Pierre Menard had rewritten it with the same ...
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423 views

What is the deeper meaning of Blake's “The Lily”?

The poem "The Lily" by William Blake must be one of the shortest of his Songs of Innocence and of Experience collection, only four lines long: The modest Rose puts forth a thorn, The humble sheep ...
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In “Bullet the Blue Sky”, what is the symbolism of Jacob and the angel?

U2's song "Bullet the Blue Sky" was inspired by Bono's trip to El Salvadore in 1986, and America's role on the Salvadoran Civil War. As Bono said in an interview, And it upset me as a person who ...
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What does Mr World represent in the American Gods book?

The American Gods Wikia site claims that Mr World is a personification of globalisation. That definitely seems to be true in the TV series (see the creepiest rant ever made about salsa), but in the ...
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Any significance to the “Dutch clock” and “Chinese plate” in Eugene Field's “The Duel”?

I just learned from an answer to an ID question about the poem "The Duel", or "The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat", in which Eugene Field describes a vicious fight between two stuffed animals as told ...
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How do Pupp's remarks connect with Krazy's in Krazy Kat, 25 July 1936?

This question is about the same Krazy Kat strip (25 July 1936) as in Krazy language in Krazy Kat, 25 July 1936, in which Krazy is making a lot of classical references and Pupp is responding: Krazy: ...
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543 views

Religious symbolism of the Telmarines?

The religious symbolism in C.S. Lewis's Narnia books is well known and, in many cases, very clear: Aslan is Jesus, the Calormenes are a very stereotypical portrayal of Muslims, the Dwarfs may ...
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262 views

What is the significance of the Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov?

In the The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan tells a long story to Alyosha about the Grand Inquisitor. I have been trying to grasp its meaning for sometime, but what is the significance of that story?
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Symbolism of Occam's death in Straight Man?

In Richard Russo's novel Straight Man, the protagonist Hank claims to be a philosophical disciple of William of Occam, and applies Occam's razor to his approach to deduction many times. As I recall, ...
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What does Tiriel's blindness symbolize?

In Tiriel, it's mentioned several times that Tiriel is blind, first in Chapter I, line 27: Look at my eyes, blind as the orbless skull among the stones! And later again in Chapter II, lines 61-65: ...
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Is “The American Claimant” a veiled take on “The Indian Question”?

Mark Twain's 1892 novel The American Claimant was written very soon after the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890), which was basically revenge for the 1876 Battle of Greasy Grass ("Little Big Horn"). This ...
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183 views

What is the symbolism of the yo-yo in V.?

The yo-yo is mentioned often in Thomas Pynchon's V., including in a few chapter names. What does it symbolize?
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60 views

What is the significance of the black void in “The Dancer on the Stairs”?

Sarah Tolmie's novelette The Dancer on the Stairs is a kind of portal fantasy, with the protagonist whisked away from our world into a strange fantastical one -- except the place she is whisked to is ...
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What do Connie's two navels represent?

Nick Joaquin's story "The Woman Who Had Two Navels" opens with the following words: When she told him she had two navels he believed her at once: (...) "She" is Connie de Vidal, ...
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Why so many poems about fish in Through The Looking-Glass?

Lewis Carroll's famous flight of fantasy Through the Looking-Glass, a sequel to the even more famous Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, contains a lot of nonsense poetry, much of which relates to fish. ...
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Who is Yossarian's pal?

In Catch-22, Chapter 41 ("Snowden"), Yossarian is under medical care after an attempt on his life. He's apparently fading in and out of consiousness at this point: Yossarian vomited, and Colonel ...
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How is black being portrayed in “Black, Their Regalia” by Darcie Little Badger?

Black features fairly prominently in "Black, Their Regalia" by Darcie Little Badger - it's in the title, and black is fairly prominent throughout the story. The Apparently Siblings play neoclassical ...
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Is Dorothea's nickname metaphorical?

In Middlemarch by George Eliot Dorothea Brook's nickname is Dodo. Or actually to be exact her sister, Celia Brook's nickname for her is Dodo. Is this an allusion to Dorothea's almost extinct kind? ...
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Does the poem 'In Just' (e. e. cummings) allude to innocents being led astray by the devil?

In the poem in Just, (1) the balloon man whistles and children come running. On the surface, this could simply be about a man selling balloons and children wanting to buy them. But we know that e. e. ...
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Why did Halle have butter all over his face

In Toni Morrison's novel Beloved, Sethe's husband Halle never came back to Baby Suggs' house after planning to run away from Sweet Home. After Paul D arrives, he later blurts out to Sethe of what he ...
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Symbolism of Billy Nolan in Carrie

Billy Nolan is a resentful, vindictive and abusive teenager who supplies Chris Hargensen with Pig blood for a prank that occurs within Stephen King's story Carrie. In it, King writes several passages ...
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What does this paragraph of “An Equal Music” by Vikram Seth mean?

I'm (re-)reading "An Equal Music" by Vikram Seth and encountered the following paragraph which I do not understand. For context, the book is written in first person perspective (although that isn't ...
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359 views

Why are the chapters in The Bastard of Istanbul named after ingredients of ashure?

The Bastard of Istanbul is a novel by Elif Şafak which explores Turkish and Armenian culture and history; you can read a summary and 9-page excerpt online. One of the questions from the "reading guide"...
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420 views

What does the six-legged dog in Charles Simic's poem “Country Fair” represent?

The poem "Country Fair" by Charles Simic centers around a dog with six legs. I'm sure the dog is supposed to symbolize something important that the speaker feels the presupposed audience is ...
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Is the hook of Marethyu meant to evoke a scythe?

Marethyu is a central character in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. You can read more about him here, but that Wikia page contains major spoilers for the series, so follow that link at ...
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1answer
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Why does the Whether Man live in Expectations, and why does he talk like this?

I've just started re-reading The Phantom Tollbooth, a fantastic tale of wit and wordplay. Every place and person that Milo meets through this story is rich in symbolism, and every piece of description ...
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What does the sword represent in poem 52 of Tagore's English Gitanjali?

In poem 52 of Tagore's English version of Gitanjali, a female persona speaks of a gift that a man or lover left her: What token left of thy love? It is no flower, no spices, no vase of perfumed water....
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What is the symbolism of the sun in this Bengali short story “The House of Wax”?

"The House of Wax" is a short story by Subodh Ghosh, translated from Bengali to English by Somrita Ganguly. It's about a man and woman who meet at a train station years after getting ...
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29 views

What do the silks and tattoos represent in Sui-Yun's poem about Eve?

One of the Peruvian writer Sui-Yun's Four Short Poems (translated from Spanish by Jennifer Shyue) is written as addressed to "Eve, my eternal mother". I hope I'm not being excessively dirty-...
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Outline the symbolism of “The astronaut in Isolation” by Rosalind Morris

“The astronaut in Isolation” by Rosalind Morris is a poem that was published on Daily Maverick on 30 April 2020. It's a new poem and there is no interpretation of this anywhere on the web. I would ...
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Social discrimination commentary in the Kite Runner

I have just recently got in touch with such an inspiring book called The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I was quite astonished by how the idea of racism and religious discrimination is stressed ...
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How to distinguish between imagery and symbolism?

I know that symbolism and imagery are the two powerful devices of modern literature, especially of poetry but a problem arises when I try to have a clear understanding of these devices. When a word or ...
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What role or symbolic purpose do polar bears serve in The North Water?

The North Water by Ian McGuire is a modern novel in the tradition of historical realism, set in the high arctic. It is a violent, masculine novel with a clear debt to the work of Cormac McCarthy which ...
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Is there a direct parallel to actual social prejudices for each color in “The War Between the Classes”?

In The War Between the Classes, the class sets up four levels of classes: Blue, the highest class; Dark Green, the lower high class; Light Green, the higher low class; and Orange, the lowest of the ...
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What did Avni Doshi try to convey towards the very end of “Girl in White Cotton” / “Burnt Sugar”?

Towards the very end of her novel, Avni portrays a scene where the protagonist Antara is together with all the characters introduced in the novel (except Kali Mata). They are having a family get ...
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In Animal Farm, what is the significance of the gun’s placement at the foot of the flagpole?

What is the significance of Mr. Jones's gun’s placement at the foot of the flagpole? Is there anything that this represents?
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What is the significance of 36 in the Vietnamese poem “Learning Late Letters”?

"Learning Late Letters", a poem originally written in Vietnamese by Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên, was one of the winners of the 2020 Words Without Borders Academy of Americans Poets Poems in ...
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Symbolic interpretations of William Horwood's Callanish?

William Horwood's short novel Callanish is about a golden eagle in London Zoo and his struggles with captivity and freedom. It was Horwood's second novel about eagles, after the extraordinarily good ...
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What is the purpose of all the gustatory imagery (food imagery) in “The Shawl” by Cynthia Ozick?

Anyone who has read the novella The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick might have noticed it is rich with gustatory imagery. In the first part of the novella, food imagery (i.e. lack of food) illustrates hunger ...
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What is the reference to Kennedy in “Tomorrow Wendy” by Concrete Blonde meant for?

From the song "Tomorrow Wendy" by Concrete Blonde (link to full lyrics): Underneath the chilly gray November sky We can make believe that Kennedy is still alive And we're shooting for the moon ...
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What is the effect of the stage directions in scene 6 of The Glass Menagerie?

In Scene 6, page 50 line 27, there's the following stage direction: Low drums sound when the doorbell rings and Laura is required to open the door to let Jim and Tom in. What is the effect of this ...
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Is there any significance to the format of Aziz's name?

One of the main protagonists in the outer frame story of Elif Shafak's The Forty Rules of Love is a man named Aziz Z. Zahara. This name immediately struck me because of its interesting relationship ...
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How does Dee Raain use the Mirrors to highlight negative human traits in the poem “Mirror of Truth”?

The poem "Mirror of Truth" by Dee Raain is as follows: What is seen in the mirror is nothing more than a person with lies and hate. With sadness and traits Of discrimination and disgrace. ...
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How do the letters S, U, F, I symbolise the stages of Aziz's life?

In Elif Şafak's novel The Forty Rules of Love, in Aziz's correspondence with Ella, he tells her his life story, completing the final part when he meets her in person. Each part of his life he refers ...
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202 views

Is there any significance to the choice of similes for poetry in “Some Like Poetry”?

The poem "Some Like Poetry" by Polish writer Wislawa Szymborska is a musing lament about the unpopularity of poetry among the general population. The middle verse consists of a series of similes which ...
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What was Kafka's point in The Metamorphosis'?

When Gregor Samsa awakens to find himself transformed into some type of beetle or roach-like creature, he gives little thought to whys and wherefores but just seems to attempt to deal with his ...
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How is inner conflict presented in the poem “Tissue”?

We haven't studied this poem in clas due to the COVID-19 outbreak and schools shutting down, but we have made annotations for the poem. However nothing about conflict came up. Have you got anyideas ...