Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Symbolism in Fiction

To celebrate the release of Entangled this month, I am blogging about themes and symbols found in the book.

I drafted this article during the Super Bowl (delayed posting due to modem death), when I was bowled over (no pun intended) by a very powerful symbol - the American Flag.  It is truly one of the most powerful symbols of liberty and freedom in the world.  It evokes emotion I can't easily describe.

In literature we can't see symbols, but we can visualize them.  Symbols impart deeper meaning to a story.  They can be subtle or obvious.  Flannery O'Connor in "The Nature and Aim of Fiction" states:

"I think that the way to read a book is to always see what happens, but in a good novel, more always happens than we are able to take in at once, more happens than meets the eye.  The mind is led on by what it sees into the greater depths that the book's symbols naturally suggest.  This is what is meant when critics say that a novel operates on several levels.  The truer the symbol, the deeper it leads you, the more meaning it opens up."
In Entangled,  I use nature symbols to add depth to the story.  The two primary symbols used are water/ocean and the wind.  Water/ocean symbolize our unconscious, and wind represents chaos and helps set the mood within the story.

As a reader, what fiction have you recently read that contained powerful symbols?  As a writer, which ones have you used enhance your theme or mood?