What is symbolism, climax, and conflict in a literary work?

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ophelious eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Symbolism: This is where an object or person (seems like it's usually an object) in a story stands for or represents an idea or concept.  For example, the American Flag represents America, freedom, democracy...you name it. Darth Vader is a symbol of evil.  The best symbols are not too obvious (at least if you are reading for enjoyment.  If you are reading to find the symbols than the opposite applies : )

Climax: The point in the story where things are either going to end one way or the other.  The protagonist will either get to her goal or it will be taken away from her.  If the story were a mountain, this would be the peak, where the tension is greatest and the reader is about find out "if the plan worked."  To stick with Star Wars, the point at which Luke fires the torpedoes toward the Death Star's exhaust shaft could be considered the climax of the movie.

Conflict: This is the heart of all stories.  Somebody wants something, and something is trying to keep him/her from getting it.  That is conflict.  Imagine two people both wanting to buy the same car...they are in conflict.  Two nations fighting a war...again, conflict.  Without it you have "guy wakes up, nothing happens, the end."  A pretty dull story.

Hope this answers your question!