Symbolism Becomes Personal

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"We want it to mean something, don't we?  More than that, we want it to mean some thing, one thing for all of us and for all time.  That would be easy, convenient, manageable for us.  But that handiness would result in a net loss: the novel would cease to be what it is, a network of meanings and significations that permits a nearly limitless range of possible interpretations." (Foster 99)

I really liked this quote because I think we all know how frustrating it can be to identify a symbol and then try to find that one perfect meaning.  In our frustration we overlook the fact that a truly great novel will have multiple meanings in its symbolism.  This allows the novel to survive over time and adapt to each new generation while the text never actually changes.  Also, if a symbol has multiple meanings, it means something different to everyone, making the novel more personal to each reader.  However, it can still be very frustrating in class to try to interpret a symbol and have valid support to uphold one's interpretation.  This work to interpret symbols though is what really makes the novel more personal and more memorable to each reader.

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Jessica Bitar said:

I also liked this quote. I agree that it is frustrating to identify symbols and their meanings. When I first learned about symbols I only thought there was one meaning of what a symbol was, but through the years I have learned otherwise. Just because one person thinks the color red for example is a symbol for love, someone else might interpret it to mean anger.

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