Consider the imagery in the novel. What is Chopin doing with all these birds? What do these references to birds help the reader to understand?

The author goes one step further and suggests associations between images and the character and /or events, such that an image is not only itself, but suggest something else too. For example, notice how many birds appear in this novel. There is a pigeon house, there are Made. Reisz's comments about birds, and there is a bird with a broken wing mentioned near the end of the book. There are other references also. What is Chopin doing with all these birds. What do these references to birds, especially as they relate to Edna, help the reader understand?

Expert Answers

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The bird imagery has multiple functions. On the simplest level, Chopin is writing, among other things, a local color story. On this level, the birds are used to help bring the various locales to life: to give a sense of what people would see and hear there. This goes for both the bright colors and the bits of French the parrot speaks.

However, more important than this is the symbolism. The birds symbolize aspects of freedom, especially female freedom. Some birds (those seen flying in the distance) symbolize active freedom. Some, like the parrot in the cage, symbolize a denied desire for freedom. Some, like bird with the broken wing, symbolize an inability to fly freely.

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