What symbols and motifs are there in the novel The Last Crossing?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This assignment assumes that you know a symbol is a thing that stands for something else: that is, a concrete or material object that represents an abstract idea. For example, a dove can represent peace. You also need to know a motif is a repeated pattern or dominant idea in a literary work; examples include discovery, disappointment, and so on. For each symbol and motif you choose, you must support your argument with evidence from the story.

In The Last Crossing, consider the following suggestions for symbols: women’s gloves or hankies, buttons, portraits, blood, candles/fire, and especially a belt. With which character(s) would you associate each of these objects, and what ideas might they represent? Consider how blood, fire, and portraits can represent different concepts for different characters.

The novel features harshness and redemption as motifs, as well as characters coming to terms with their own demons. Examine the main characters for their personal demons, which means the struggles or burdens they are haunted by, from dramatic events or catastrophes in their pasts.

Other ideas for motifs are father/son relationships, brotherhood, siblings, loss, dissemblers, survivors, dreams, protectors, abandonment/rejection, escapism, and pursuit. In particular, consider the journey or mission as a significant motif, and examine the intertwining of characters' journeys.

There is a moving love story at the novel's center, but it is an unusual one. You might want to consider the love story as a significant motif, but this one challenges you to look beyond the obvious.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial