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What symbols are present in the story "Big Two Hearted River" (both parts) and what do...

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weener | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 2, 2010 at 10:43 PM via web

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What symbols are present in the story "Big Two Hearted River" (both parts) and what do they represent?

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted January 3, 2010 at 12:24 AM (Answer #1)

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Hemingway uses symbols throughout the two short stories.  Even in the beginning, he uses the mansion to represent all that is left of the once productive town of Seney. The River in the story first represents life in the middle of the destruction.  The land that Nick first comes to and the town has all been desolated by the fire.  The fire is symbolic of change which is evident when he picks up the grasshoppers that are all black now.  They have adapted their appearance to blend in with the burned environment.  The River is also symbol of home and safety.  The theme of nature also serves as a symbol.  Nick in reference to home has gone back to the primitive comforts of nature, a time before mankind had civilization.

In Part II Nick refers to the grasshoppers saying "They were the good grasshoppers."  The grasshoppers are now representative that Nick is in a pure place. 

"Nick felt awkward and professionally happy with all his equipment hanging from him" (223).

The above statement symbolizes the sharp contrast between what is natural in the setting and what is unnatural.  Even though the equipment is good and professional Nick's awkwardness reflects that it is out of place in the natural setting.  The imagery of man contaminating nature is symbolic when he talks about the spots that appeared on the fish after men in a tournament had touched the trout and put them back into the water.

 

 

 

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