Please give an example of symbolism in "The Management of Grief."

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps the most poignant example of symbolism in this story that concerns the attempts of a widow to come to terms with the tragic death of her husband and children comes when the widow, the narrator of the tale, visits the sea off the shore of Ireland where the plane came down after the bomb exploded it. As Dr. Ranganathan throws some pink roses into the water to remember his wife and commemorate her life, the narrator reflects what she has to float on the sea to remember the lives of her family:

But I have other things to float: Vinod's pocket calculator; a half-painted model B-52 for my Mithus. They'd want them on their island. And for my husband? For him I let fall into the calm, glassy waters a poem I wrote in the hospital yesterday. Finally he'll know my feelings for him.

These objects, and especially the poem, symbolise the love that the narrator has for her family. Note the way at the beginning of the story in which she laments the fact that she never told her husband that she loved him:

"I never told him that I loved him," I say. I was too much the well brought up woman. I was so well brought up I never felt comfortable calling my husband by his first name.

Ironically it is only now, after his death, that she is able to voice what had been silent for so long, so that "finally" her husband will know what she feels for him. The poem that confesses her love for her husband is thus floated on the sea near the site of his death along with other objects and pink roses: all symbols of love and remembrance.

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The Management of Grief

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