Show how the pear tree is an allegory in the short story "Bliss."

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Allegory is a way of reading a piece of literature. Some allegory makes it strikingly clear that it is allegory by giving characters titles instead of names, such as "Red Cross Knight" and "Everyman" or "Christian." In general however, allegorical meaning is up to the reader's comprehension. This means that allegory can be found in a word, a phrase, a sentence, a passage, as well as a whole book.

In "Bliss," the pear tree is said to symbolize Bertha and her happy life. However later the same pear tree is associated with Pearl whom we learn is having a romantic affair with Harry, Bertha's husband. Seen in this light, the pear tree may be read as an allegorical representation of female sexual happiness: Bertha's happiness, Pearl's happiness, and finally Bertha's crushed happiness. The allegorical nature of the pear tree would explain why it is still beautiful, and not blighted, even though Bertha's sexual happiness is blighted at the end of the story.

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