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Rain, Rain, Go Away...

As soon as I started reading Thomas C. Foster's HTRLLAP explanation of weather in literature, I knew what was coming... The things he discussed had been drilled into my head over and over again in AP English my senior year of high school.

I remember reading one particular book that year that had rain in it so many times, I started pondering wringing it out with my bare hands. It was Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, a novel that I actually enjoyed a lot (for those of you who haven't read it, it's about a murderer and thief named Raskolnikov who goes through extreme inner torment while trying to conceal the truth of his crimes from his family and friends). As many 'cleansings' as the characters in that book get, you'd think they'd all be saints by the end, which is very nearly true; Rodya (Raskolnikov's short-version name), despite having such a stained reputation and addled mind, actually ends up being a half-decent fellow, earning the love and even the forgiveness/acceptance of one of my favorite female characters from literature at the end of the story.

Anyways, relating that book to what Foster talks about, I definitely agree: "it's never just rain." There is practically always some deeper meaning behind a sudden description of the weather in a story; rain especially, as a symbol of 'cleansing' or 'rebirth', seems to pop up at least once in almost every novel I read.

Foster mentions Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon (another excellent story), which also uses weather symbolically in many ways. I particularly like the fact that, however, that in this particular story it is used not to save a character's life, but to end it. It still acts to 'cleanse' the character that Foster mentions, dispelling her illusions of her own self-image, but removing that delicate barrier leaves her defenseless against the horror of her own experiences (she attempts to murder a lover who jilted her, stalking him repeatedly, and very nearly succeeds). I think Morrison did an excellent job of using rain in a more creative fashion.


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