ENG125: Introduction to Literature (GSH1315G)
Instructor: Kyla Hammond
April 21, 2013
Theme and Narrative Elements
The short story described here is I used to Live Here Once. The theme described in the short story is life’s spiritual journey. Three of the literary elements present in the story include symbolism and mood.
The major theme from this short story is about life’s spiritual journey. At the beginning of the story, the woman is standing at a river. It is clear that she has been there before because the author states “she was standing by the river looking at the stepping stones, and remembering each one” (Clugston, 2010). This represents the idea of the woman remembering her life, and the choices to include situations she had experienced in it. As she travels down the road a different perspective is implied. One example of this is when the author wrote “the road was much wider than it used to be” (Clugston, 2010). As the woman gets closer to her old home, she sees two children and calls out to them; they are unable to hear her. She approaches them to reach out to them, but they only felt cold and wanted to leave. It was at that point in the story that the woman realized she was no longer living. The author points this out by stating “that was the first time she knew” (Clugston, 2010). The story unfolds as the woman crosses over the river, reliving things along a path she found familiar, and ended with her realizing she has passed on. This is how the story described her spiritual journey.
Symbolism and mood are two literary elements in this story. There are several examples of symbolism in the text. One example of symbolism involves the river. It symbolizes a crossing over or dying. The author talks about obstacles in the river (the rocks) which could symbolize life’s journey to the other side or to dying. The text stating “but after that it was easy and soon she was standing on the...