Symbolism Embolism

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Is that a Symbol? (Foster 97).

Since re-reading this chapter I again am inclined to share my opinions about the topic of symbolism. It seems that many people go into a work looking for very specific symbols and they have to mean a certain thing. However I think it is important to do what foster says and ask yourself what does it mean to me? 

Although the author might include specific symbols in a work that are supposed to hold a particular meaning but if the reader doesnt get those meanings then it doesnt matter. What matters at that point is what the reader did get out of the work. If an apple is in a work and supposed to represent the fruit from eden - but a person who grew up around an apple orchard will probably see a different meaning first, something personal that others may not get.

That is the beauty to literature. While there are some right answers there are probably just as many answers that are right to the person who is reading the literature.

2 Comments

Georgia Speer said:

Joshua, after reading your blog I felt that I can relate to your comments. In re-reading chapter 12 about symbolism, it brought some meaning that I got the first time but also some new meaning to me. I thought initially that we had to check all of our own emotions at the door and not consider our own feelings. I got so wrapped up in the thought that I had to only look for what the author wanted us to look for and not think of how we “feel” about it, but what is the author wanting us to see exactly? As you said, we can often miss that and if that is the case than what do you gain from reading that piece of literature? In learning to close read I have understood by reading much of Foster’s chapters as well as from Dr. Jerz’s lectures that we can still apply our emotions, but not only our gut emotional response, we have to be able to also identify and analyze more depth and ask the right questions to dig deeper into what an author of a piece of literature is trying to express to the readers. We all will not always get it, but may come close, or even see a different turn to it than most may take away from it. As you said, “That is the beauty to literature. While there are some right answers there are probably just as many answers that are right to the person who is reading the literature.” I know that Dr. Jerz has said many times that there is no wrong answer, as long as we can back our claims up with evidence from the literature we can prove our thoughts and interpretations are the right answers as well.

Joshua WIlks said:

exactly! that is what i meant to convey with my blog. However I would go so far as to say that even with very little textual evidence, something in a story can mean something very specific to the reader. Again I will bring up the apple idea. If you have been around apples all your life then the symbol of an apple is going to mean something very specific to you regardless of the textual evidence. I think that writers write to invoke emotionS, not a specific emotion.

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