What are the symbols in "The Ambitious Guest"?

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The house and family are symbolic of the fragility of human life and aspirations . The family lives in a place called the Notch, between high and rocky mountains that often drop rocks down the slopes and near to the house. The head of the family, the father, acknowledges it when the "old mountain [throws] a stone at [them], for fear [they] should forget him." The father feels, however, that he and the mountain have a long history of peace, though he claims that the family has a "place of refuge" if the mountain should ever come "in good earnest." They feel that they have prepared for any potential danger by locating a place where they can be safe; in short, they have planned for the future. The problem is that any plans humans ever make for the future are really only expressions of our hopes for the future: one could die tomorrow of a heart attack or a railroad accident or by choking on a piece of candy. We try to make ourselves safe—by exercising every day, or walking everywhere, or...

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