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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A “symbol of defeat” is referring to something that stands for defeat.  Symbolism is different from metaphor.  A metaphor is a comparison.  For example, if a flag is described as a quilt, that would be using the flag as a metaphor.  If something is described as a symbol of defeat, that means that whatever it is means defeat to someone.  For example, let’s say the “symbol of defeat” was a wound.

John’s wound was a symbol of defeat, and he gave up the will to live.

This is just an example I made up.  In this case, the sentence is telling you what the wound meant to John.  It was more than just a wound.  It meant that he was defeated, and he lost the will to fight.

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