What symbolism is there in "Ripe Figs" by Kate Chopin?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is an excellent short short story by one of the best short story writers ever, in my opinion, and if we want to consider symbolism, one way to do it would be to consider the ripe figs of the title themselves and how they operate symbolically in this tale of youthful impatience versus a more mature approach to time. It is the ripening of the figs that Maman-Nainaine choses as a natural time marker of when Babette can go and visit her cousins and, amusingly, at the end, we see that the ripening of figs is not the only natural time marker that Maman-Nainaine uses to plan her life:

"And tell your tante Frosine I shall look for her at Toussaint--when the chrysanthemums are in bloom."

Thus we are presented with a woman who is so in touch with nature that she uses the variosu seasons and the way that nature responds to rule her own life. The "ripe figs" become then a symbol of a life lived in harmony with nature and ruled by it.

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