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  1. 1. Symbols & Allegory When is a cigar not a cigar?
  2. 2. Literary Symbol <ul><li>Something that means more than what it suggests on the surface. It may be an object, a person, a situation, an action, or some other element that has a literal meaning in the text but that suggests or represents other meanings as well. </li></ul>
  3. 3. What’s the Difference? <ul><li>An image means what it is: “A shaggy brown dog scratches his rough back with a scruffy paw. </li></ul><ul><li>A metaphor means something other than what it is: “Some dirty dog stole my wallet” </li></ul><ul><li>A symbol means what it is and something more as well. </li></ul>
  4. 4. How to Find a Symbol <ul><li>The story itself must furnish clues that the detail should be interpreted symbolically. Symbols nearly always signal their existence by emphasis , repetition , or position. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Miss Brill’s fur is referenced at the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Repetition and positioning signal its importance as a symbol. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The quilts in “Everyday Use” are emphasized by their importance to the central conflict. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. How to Find a Symbol <ul><li>The meaning of the symbol must be established by the entire context of the story. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Symbols must fit all of the major details of the story. If there is a significant event that doesn’t fit with our interpretation of a symbol, than we may not have fully explored the author’s intent. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Miss Brill’s fur does not represent insanity. This does not fit with the tone and details of the story. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. How to Find a Symbol <ul><li>A symbol must suggest a meaning different in kind from its literal meaning. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Miss Brill does not symbolize old women – she is an old woman. However, her fur symbolizes the odd, lonely, person she is. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dee (Wangero) does not symbolize daughters – she is a daughter. However, her name might symbolize her rejection of her roots. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. How to Find a Symbol <ul><li>A symbol can have more than one meaning. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As with many other aspects of literature, a symbol can be interpreted in as many ways as a theme. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The quilts in “Everyday Use” may represent inherited values, beauty of craftsmanship, the value of the past, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. How to Find a Symbol <ul><li>Remember the Zebra Rule! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most elements in a text are literal because most texts operate on a literal level. Don’t look for zebras until you’ve ruled out the work horses of literature: imagery, figurative language, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Allegory <ul><li>A narrative or description that has a second meaning beneath the surface </li></ul>
  10. 10. What’s the Difference? <ul><ul><li>Unlike metaphor an allegory is a system of related comparisons rather than one drawn out comparison. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unlike symbol an allegory puts less emphasis on the images and more on the ulterior meaning. Also, meaning tends to be fixed. There is a one to one relationship between detail and ulterior meaning. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Allegorical Examples <ul><li>Pilgrim’s Progress </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Story of Christian ’s journey through the wilderness. Each element represents the Christian journey through life. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Animal Farm </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Story of the animals revolt against the oppression of the farmer. Each element represents an aspect of the Russian Revolution and eventual turn to a Communist government. </li></ul></ul>