In "The Prospectors" by Karen Russell, identify two examples of symbolism and discuss how they serve the story’s theme.

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Aubby and Clara, the main characters of this short story, see themselves as "prospectors." They both grew up with stories of the gold rush in North America told to them by their fathers. Aubby's father killed himself as a result of gambling on dog-racing; Clara's father owned and ran a hotel whose business stemmed from capitalizing on a local myth about a cryptozoic creature living in the water nearby.

So both men sought to make their fortune from figurative sources—not from selling their physical labour like the CCC workers or mining gold but from knowledge and luck. This mirrors the experience of a prospector: these men made their money from lucky finds, from "magic metal . . . a hundred grand richer in a single hour." These girls are making their money and fortune off their social labour: being used by men as "gloating mirrors."


It is significant that Clara and Aubby happen upon a lavish party of dead workers. The party is a symbol for the failing fortunes of the...

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