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The snow seems to mean different things to the man and the woman. For her, snow seems to represent the relationship she had that winter in the country, before the couple separated. When she remembers that time, snow figures prominently. She remembers the man “like a crazy king of snow,” wearing a white turban and shoveling the walk. She remembers looking up at the sky as the snow streamed down: “It seemed that the world had been turned upside down, and we were looking into an enormous field of Queen Anne’s lace.” Because this was a happy and optimistic time for the woman, she views the snow as an integral part of a joyous experience. Her response to the snow is an enthusiastic one, and she doubtless loved being secure in her warm country house while the snow fell all around. For the man, that winter was not such a lark. The woman says of him: “You remember it differently.” He would not look back upon the time with such nostalgia. He views it as cold, moonless, repetitive, and grim. One night he tells her: “Any life will seem dramatic if you omit mention of most of it.” Snow to the man, in ironic and complete contrast to the woman, represents all that was wrong with that winter in the country. While she remembers him as Snow King, does he remember what a tedious chore it was to shovel and re-shovel the walks? The chipmunk, which appears in the opening sentence, leaps into the house as if it belongs there, despite the fact that it obviously does not; one could perhaps say the same thing of the couple. The pool, covered with a black shroud of plastic, under a torrent of rain, may hint at the death of the couple’s relationship. Beattie turns characterization and symbolism on its head.
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