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Does the Julia Alvarez use symbols to represent abstract ideas in the short story...

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japi | Honors

Posted June 23, 2010 at 3:01 AM via web

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Does the Julia Alvarez use symbols to represent abstract ideas in the short story "Daughter of Invention"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 16, 2010 at 9:22 PM (Answer #1)

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Of course, all symbols represent something bigger and larger than just themselves, and this short story is no exception. Clearly, for me, the biggest symbol in this short story is the typewriter that the contrite father buys for his daughter at the end of the story having ripped up her speech. Remember how this destruction is described:

He snatched the speech out of my hands, held it before my panicked eyes, a vengeful, mad look in his own, and then once, twice, three, four, countless times, he tore my prize into shreds.

The anger and violence he displays of course emerges from the political danger that the family experienced in the Dominican Republic, where they have fled from. The father is unable to accept that in America they are safe and there is true freedom of speech. Thus, at the end of the story, the father returns with a gift for his daughter:

Downstairs, I found him setting up a brand new electric typewriter on the kitchen table. It was even better than the one I'd been begging to get like my mother's My father had outdone himself with all the extra features: a plastic carrying case with my initials, in decals, below the handle, a brace to lift the paper upright while I typed, an erase cartridge, an automatic margin tab, a plastic hood like a toaster cover to keep the dust away.

This of course symbolises the love the father has for his daughter, but also something much more - the faith that he has in her creative writing abilities. Thus the typewriter acts as a symbol of nurturing - he wants his daughter to use it to further her gifts and abilities.

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