Introduction to Literature

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Introduction to Literature Symbolism to Convey Meaning The way a reader analyzes a story is a direct result of the experiences that he or she has had, as well as, his or her environment (Clugston, 2010). That is important to remember because each reader will see any given story in a different way. Even though views are differing it does not make one view right and the other wrong. It is just based upon where the reader is at this point in his or her life.
In the short story “Used to Live Here Once” by Jean Rhys and the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost there are many ways in which the reader may interpret what he or she has read. If the reader chooses to learn more about the author; the true meaning that the author is intending to convey may be revealed. Learning about the reader allows for the reader to get a sense of the writing style of the author. Furthermore, if the Author has had similar experiences in his or her life, it may show the inspiration behind the piece. The form the author has chosen may also reflect what is attempting to be portrayed in the story. The Road Not Taken” and “Used to Live Here Once” are both stories of a journey. However, the stories actually go deeper then what the reader may originally see. Both Robert Frost and Jean Rhys use symbolism in order to convey a deeper meaning into the story. In “The Road Not Taken” the deeper meaning is the importance of choosing the right path. “Used to Live Here Once” on the other hand, has a deeper meaning of looking back on life after death. The symbolisms used in these stories gives clues into the meaning behind the journey and clues of the author’s life as well.
Jean Rhys writes “Used to Live Here Once” in the form of a short story. A short story is generally in the form of several different paragraphs. It is structured using proper punctuation and grammar. The short story “usually consists of between 500 and 10,000 words which typically set up and resolve a single narrative point or depicts a mood or atmosphere (Anonymous, 2010) Additionally, the author is allowed to go into great detail about the setting. In this short story, the reader is demonstrated this form throughout the story.
At the beginning of “Used to Live Here Once”, Rhys shows this in the statement; “There was a round unsteady one, the pointed one, the flat one in the middle-the safe stone where she could stand and look around (Clugston, 2010). ” This description of the stones across the river allows the reader to picture what the author was seeing. Additionally, as the story progresses, the use of detail is shown once again when Rhys writes; “Very fair children, as Europeans in the West Indies so often are; as if the white blood is asserting itself against all odds (Clugston, 2010). Is another great example of how Rhys paints a picture in the reader’s mind from the details of the scene she has described. All of the details throughout the story allow for the reader to be drawn in and see what the writer is trying to portray. On the other hand, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is written in poem form. When writing in a poem form, the author must follow a certain restrictions, patterns, and rules. For instance; the sonnet which restricts the writer to 14 lines in which specific lines must rhyme. Another example of the strict rules of poetry is Limerick.
The Limerick “structure consist of five lines: The first two lines and the third and fourth lines have rhyming end words, and the first and last lines often end with the same word (Clugston,2010). ” This shows how much thought the author really has to put into the poem. However, poems do not require the author to write use perfect spelling and grammar. “The Road Not Taken” is an example of an ode. An ode is “a form of lyric poetry in which a single subject or purpose is exalted in a serious, dignified way (Clugston, 2010). ” This shows in the verse “long I stood and looked down one as far as I could (Clugston, 2010). This quote shows that he is putting a lot of serious thought into which road was the best to take. While short stories and poem have a few similarities, they have a lot more differences. One similarity that both short stories and poems have is that they both tell a story. In both “The Road Not Taken” and “Used to Live Here Once” both authors tell a story that conveys a deep meaning. Also, they are both centered around a theme. There are a lot more differences in the two, one of which is, a poem is subjected to many rules and style restrictions where as the short story is not.
However, the short story must be written in proper paragraph form using correct spelling and grammar. The poem is given much more leeway when it comes to spelling and grammar. Additionally, short stories go into great detail about the setting. In contrast, the poem says as much as possible say as much as possible in as little words as possible. For instance; instead of saying something like; one fall day, I was walking through the woods where I came upon two roads as a short story might, Robert Frost says “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood (Clugston, 2010). This shows how a lot can be crammed into very few words. Poems always put as much meaning into as few words as possible. Though it is saying little, the reader can still put together the same meaning that he or she might see in the short story. One of the things that “The Road Not Taken” and “Used to Live Here Once” have in common is how they are presented to the reader. Or what point of view the author has decided to write. Point of view is “how the action is presented to the reader (Clugston, 2010)” In both “Used to Live Here Once” and “The Road Not Taken” both seem to be written in the first person.
A first person point of view develops “when the narrator describes his or her personal action and thoughts as a participant in the story (Clugston, 2010). ” In both “The Road Not Taken” and “Used to Live Here Once” both authors describe the settings as their own thoughts and feelings. For example: the closing in “The Road Not Taken” states: “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference (Clugston, 2010)” is a clear feeling of the writer. The statement is saying that the path that was taken may have been harder but it was the best thing he could have done.
It is the same way with the final statement in “Used to Live Here Once”. It states “that was the first time she knew (Clugston, 2010)” which also shows feelings of the writer. What that is saying is that the writer finally knew what she was…dead. Robert Frost and Jean Rhys’s use of writing in the first person really allow for the story to be told in their perspective. This allowed for the reader to follow the stories in great detail. The authors using the first person allows for the stories to be followed along with and understood easily.
Another thing that, “The Road Not Taken” and “Used to Live Here Once”, has in common is that they both tell a story and have a theme. The theme of a story is “a unifying idea, image, or motif, repeated or developed throughout a work (theme, 2000). ” “The Road Not Taken” tells the story of a man who comes to a cross road in his life and must decide what path to take. The theme of the story is the importance of making decisions which is shown several times throughout the story. The character in the poem really helps the reader to understand and identify with the theme.
The characters descriptions and thoughts on the paths help the reader to visualize what is being read. “Used to Live Here Once” tells the story of a girl who is taking a journey to a place she lived at once point. The theme of the story really shows at the closing of the story that it is a spiritual journey. The theme is hinted at several times throughout the story but really becomes clear with the closing. In this story the character is vital to the understanding of what is going on throughout the story. She takes the reader through her memories that lead him or her into the world she once knew.
What these two have in common is that both stories tell a tale of a journey being taken by the characters in the story that wind up showing a deep meaning. Additionally, the characters in both stories play a huge role in the understanding of what the writer is attempting to get across. Throughout the story, “Used to Live Here Once”, there are several symbolisms that hint to the reader that the character is actually dead. A symbolism is something with a literal identity but can actually mean something else (Clugston, 2010). This is vital because symbolisms create a whole world of imagination to the reader.
Initially the story is talking about river and stones that can be used to cross it. The story can get that these stones may symbolize memories the character looking back on. Once the character has crossed the river it states “she is standing on the other side (Clugston, 2010). ” Some believe that after we die we cross over to the other side. This could be a symbolism for this. That is followed by the character talking about the changes that have been made since she had been there last. It could be a symbolization of how much time has passed since she has passed on.
Another good symbolism from “Used to Live Here Once” happens when she is in front of the place she used to live. There were children outside playing that she attempted to talk to. When there was no response from them she tried reaching for one of them. One of the children then states: “Hasn’t it gone cold all of a sudden (Clugston, 2010). ” It is said that if a spirit is present that the temperature will either get hot or cold. In fact, experts say that there are thermometers that “can be used to detect cold spots, which are said to be caused by spirits that drain the energy from the area around them (Brown, 2006, p. xii). ” The final symbolism in the short story is the closing statement of “that was the first time she knew (Clugston, 2010). ” That was the first time she knew could symbolize that she finally realized that she was actually dead and no one could see or hear her. “The Road Not Taken” also has several symbolisms throughout the poem. The first symbolism is at the very beginning of the poem. Frost wrote “two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both (Clugston, 2010). ” The reader can get from this that the character is at a cross roads in his life and has to choose which path to take.
Following that the poem talks about the look of the different paths. One looking grassy and the other covered in leaves could symbolize an easy and a hard path. It follows by stating; “I doubted that I should ever come back (Clugston, 2010),” which could symbolize not being able to change decisions that he or she has already made in his or her life. “The Road Not Taken” concludes by saying “I took the one less traveled by, and it has made all the difference (Clugston, 2010). ” This could symbolize to the reader that the road less traveled by may be the harder at first but that in the end it will pay off.
The symbolisms shown in each story are vital to the depth and understanding of the stories. Both Jean Rhys and Robert Frost show great talent in the way they use symbolism to display the deeper journey their characters are on throughout the stories. One difference in “Used to Live Here Once” and “The Road Not Taken” is the tone. The tone in a story is vital because it will help the writer to convey what feelings the character is feeling in the story. Jean Rhys gave “Used to Live Here Once” an intimate tone. As the characters memories are portrayed it gives the story a more intimate feeling.
As a result, it makes the reader feel as if he or she were right there with her. Using an intimate tone in this story is appropriate because going through the characters memories by reader her experiences is really an intimate moment. Just as if one were to share his or her feelings with a spouse or close friend. In contrast, the tone of “The Road Not Taken” is much more serious. This can be seen by the man who is putting a lot of thought into what road to take. The nature of needing to choose the best path or decision is one of a serious nature.
Frost also chose an appropriate tone for his poem. When someone is choosing what he or she should do in their life, it is not of humor or intimacy, it is quite serious. If Frost were to have taken on a different tone it probably would have lessened the seriousness of the poem and made it more of a joke. Another thing that “The Road Not Taken” and “Used to Live Here Once” have in common is that they both have a lot of reference to nature. In “Used to Live Here Once” there are several references to nature. One of which is the reference to the river and stones mentioned in the first paragraph.
Another reference actually suggests the time of year in which they are in. In this the story states that “the grass was yellow in the hot sunlight (Clugston, 2010). ” The yellow grass and hot sun are most likely referring the setting to be in summer. The setting in this story symbolizes the strong memories that the character has in that time. In “The Road Not Taken”, the fist reference to nature is in the first line it states: “two roads diverged in a yellow wood (Clugston, 2010). ” This suggests that the character is in the season of fall in the woods unlike “Used to Live Here Once” where it is in summer.
There are also references to nature when Frost describes the undergrowth, the leaves, and the grass along the paths. In this poem the references to nature symbolize that depth that each path has and how there may be several bumps in the road. When reading a piece of literature for the first time it is important to read about the author. Reading about the author will give the reader a greater view of how the author probably meant for the piece to be conveyed. Reading about the author, of “Used to Live Here Once”, Jean Rhys will allow for the reader to learn that all of her stories are based on her own life situations.
It is said that “she published four autobiographical novels and a collection of short stories over the next two decades but by the 1950’s she had been almost wholly forgotten (Sinha, 2001). ” This statement is important because it shows that Jean Rhys uses her own life to write about. It is safe to assume that a reader will be able to find something in Jean Rhys life that would relate to the story “Used to Live Here Once”. Jean Rhys had several short stories and novels, written under Ford Maddox Ford, after which she disappeared for years and people thought that she had died (Nordgren, 2006).
At the end of “Used to Live Here Once” when the character says “that was the first time I knew (Clugston, 2010)” it is possible that the character is referring to just knowing that her career was dead. As stated earlier in this paragraph, Jean Rhys career had died off and she had been almost forgotten about completely. This is vital because if the Mrs. Rhys had been a very prominent writer then just completely stopped writing anything then those who did not know her may assume she had passed away. Rhys having moved to and from places may be the cause of why she has not ived or been to the home in quite some time (Nordgren, 2006). Upon reading about Jean Rhys it will be more clear to the reader that the life of Jean Rhys does symbolize the journey in which the character in “Used to Live Here Once” is on remember how her life was at one point then being completely forgotten about. Robert Frost on the other hand does not seem to relate his writing to his own life so closely. Those who knew Frost described him as a darker man who was ironic, skeptical and competitive (Ferlazzo, 2001). This is not so clearly seen in Frost’s writings.
Frost’s “poems articulate the struggle of a man on his own in an indifferent universe trying to come to term with loss, doubt, and fear (Ferlazzo, 2001). ” This is important because if the reader looks at “The Road Not Taken”, it clearly symbolizes a man who is in doubt of what road he should choose and afraid to choose the wrong road. At the end of the poem when the man sighs it seems as though he still doubts the choice he has made in his life. In conclusion, both short stories and poems though they may not seem to actually have a lot in common and have a few differences as well.
The story of “Used to Live Here Once” and the poem of “The Road Not Taken” are no exception. The story and poem both show great detail though the detail in a poem is compacted into as few words as possible. They both have a good story line and contain a theme. Upon reading both the short story and poem leads the reader into an in depth journey brought to life by the use of the writers symbolisms. Frost and Rhys show great strength in getting a message across through their writings. Though they both have different styles, what has happened in their lives shows some face when reading their works.
The authors actually introduced the reader into a portion of his or her life by showing them the symbolisms used to create the characters journey which actually showed part of their own journey. References Anonymous. (2010). Short Story. Retrieved on 11/10/2011 Retrieved from http://www. credoreference. com/entry/heliconhe/short_story Brown, A. (2006). Ghost Hunters of the South. Jackson, MS, USA: University Press of Mississippi. Retrieved from http://site. ebrary. com/lib/ashford/Doc? id=10218403&ppg=22 Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into Literature. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education,
Inc. Ferlazzo, P. (2001). Robert Frost 1874-1963. Retrieved on 11/12/2011 Retrieved from http://www. credoreference. com/entry/routampoetry/robert_frost_1874_1963 Pettis, C. (2000). Crossing Over-A Modern Book of the Dead Retrieved on 11/13/2011 Retrieved From http://www. geo. org/cross. htm Nordgren, J. (2006). Rhys, Jean. Retrieved on 11/12/2011 Retrieved from http://www. credoreference. com/entry/britlit/rhys_jean Sinha, U. (2001). Rhys, Jean 1890-1979. Retrieved on 11/14/2011 Retrieved from http://www. credoreference. com/entry/routlifewrite/rhys_jean_1890_1979

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