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  • Identify instances of symbolism in fiction
  • Interpret an instance of symbolism in fiction
  • Identify Themes in fiction
  • Discuss how different readings of a single work can identify different themes in a single work of fiction


With these chapters, we are getting into the more intangible elements of fiction. Symbolism and theme are a note as easy to point to or succinctly describe as some of the other elements we have looked at. Your text tells you not to think of symbols (or themes for that matter) as hidden meaning. In addition to this excellent advice, I would advise that you also not concern yourself with what the author may, or may not have “intended”.

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Quite simply, we don’t have access to what the author’s intentions were (only the author knows what they intended, and they probably also know that what they wrote does not exactly fit those intentions). Symbols don’t have meaning merely because the author intended them and carefully placed them. They have meaning when that placement is perceived by the reader—their meaning is created not just by the author through writing, but also requires the reader to read. You might think of it in terms of the old saying about a tree falling in a forest, and whether—with no one there—it makes a sound. In this case, it may make a “sound”, but when someone is there it may be a different “sound” than it was for the author.

I invite you to enjoy looking closely at the stories we are reading in these chapters for the broader and richer meanings that they suggest, and for the overarching themes that they explore



This weeks discussion questions are pretty straight forward and simple, but don’t let that fool you. Answering them will take some time, so make sure you understand the question

1.  Choose one story from each chapter -Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 (symbolism and theme chapters).

2.  Describe a symbol or theme present in each story. Use examples from the text to explain what goes into creating the symbol or theme. Explain the meaning that it adds to the story.

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