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Literature-Symbols in conveying literary themes

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Now we will discusses the importance of point of view in literature and, more specifically, in the short story. Choose one short story listed below and analyze it in terms of point of view.
1. Alice Walker's?The Welcome Table
2. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (1906)
3. A Worn Path by Eudora Welty (1941)

When writing your post, consider the following questions

1. How would you categorize the point of view [e.g., first-person, second-person (i.e., "you"), third-person limited, third-person omniscient]?
2. Is the point of view consistent throughout the story (told from the same point of view), or does it shift at any points in the narrative? (If so, make note of when and how those changes occur.)
3. How does point of view shape your reading of the work? In what ways does it contribute to or detract from your reading of the work?
4. How does point of view relate to the story's themes or content?


We will now explore 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 following readings and examine more closely in relation to symbolism.

1. Hills Like White Elephants by Earnest Hemingway (1927)
2. I used to Live Here Once by Jean Rhys (1976)

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, 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.

Solution Preview

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (1906)

1. This story is told from third person limited omniscient view, in that we have access, as readers, to Della's thoughts, but not to Jim's. We ascertain what Jim is thinking only through his observable behavior, and what he says.

2. This point of view is consistent with limited variation - occurring in the description of Jim's behavior in front of King Solomon. This is in order to invoke envy at his watch, or his shame at the leather fob on which he carried it.

3. This point of view allows us to focus on Della's side of the sacrifice gift, while allowing us to be surprised at the end of the story at the revelation of Jim's sacrifice gift, too. We know of her great sacrifice because of the point of view. We see her thoughts but we don't know that Jim is essentially doing the same thing with his treasured watch until the end because we don't get to hear what he is thinking.

4. The point of view works well in this story because it preserves for the readers the fact that each of the young lovers has sacrificed the ...

Solution Summary

A brief beginning discussion of two literary works, both short stories, one by O. Henry: The Gift of the Magi and the other by Ernest Hemingway, Hills Like White Elephants. Mention of literature symbols and how an author's point of view can contribute to a successful story ending.