Exploring the role of symbols in conveying literary themes. Themes are abundant in literary works (though they are at some times more obvious than at others). Select one short story from the reading assignments (from either Week One or Week Two) to examine more closely in relation to symbolism. Consider the story’s overall theme(s) and use of images as well as how these two relate to one another. You may choose to explore one single recurring symbol, or you may discuss multiple symbols and how they relate to one another.
At the beginning of your post, identify (a) the literary work that you will analyze and (b) the theme(s) that is/are most relevant to the symbolism you will explore.
Your initial post should be at least 150 words in length. Support your claims and properly cite any references.
Short story: Hills Like White Elephants
By Hemmingway
Two elements that every short story writer depends on to express the meaning of a story: theme and symbols. Theme can be stated directly, but usually writers prefer an indirect approach, choosing to include hints about its meaning several times during the story. In other words, theme has to be inferred. The first hint may be in the title or in the names of the characters. The annotation accompanying Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” illustrates ways writers use symbols to reveal both the context and the content of a story’s theme. An additional story is included for further exploration of these narrative writing techniques.
Hills Like White Elephants
Selected to show how theme (and characterization, too) can be developed distinctly and effectively in a story that has minimal action, lean descriptive detail, and fragmentary dialogue. Hemingway uses symbols of life and death effectively to explore a complex theme: the dilemma that significant life decisions present. Following the “white elephant” reference in the title, which suggests that the abortion could be approached as something inconsequential, there are several clearer images of death, each of which is balanced against an image of life: the arid landscape around the station (death) contrasts with the vibrancy of colors beyond (life); the baggage with the couple’s hotel tags is a reminder of their carefree life together that is now changed (death); by moving the bags to the point where Jig will board the train, the American advocates the abortion and the continuation of their relationship (life); the Anis del Toro drink, which Jig had never tried before failed to enliven her or improve things: it just tasted like licorice. Intentionally, Hemingway uses symbols like these and the couple’s conflicting feelings to reveal the depth of the dilemma they face, not to resolve it.

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