In Whirligig's Chapter 3, what is a symbol (other than the whirligig) appearing in that chapter and what effect does it have on Brent?

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chsmith1957 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When you re-read a chapter with a specific focus in mind – like searching for a symbol – you may surprise yourself by what you discover the second or third time around. I found three potentially symbolic items here.

In the third chapter, called “The Afterlife,” Brent learns what he must do in order to atone for his crime. He has to travel to the four corners of the country, then build and install whirligigs as tribute to Lea. He buys a used instruction book on how to make them. The previous owner had written lots of notes in the margins. This book and the unseen woodcrafter can be symbolic of the possibilities that lie ahead for Brent. They also serve as his teachers in the process. He seems grateful for the guidance.

Brent carries a photograph of Lea with him. He looks at it from time to time as he makes this first whirligig (and later, with the others). The photo is a symbol of the accident and of the past. It is a vivid reminder of what kind of tragedy can result when someone gets angry, gets drunk, and loses his self control. It’s something that Brent surely doesn’t ever want to do again.

Brent shares a camp site with a Canadian bicyclist. He introduces Brent to the Chinese stone game called Go. Coincidentally, this is Brent’s first stop with the project. He’s just getting started, getting ready to Go. Brent enjoys the challenge of learning something new. This game is a silent prod for him to indeed Go, to keep on Going, and to keep on learning.