Katherine Porter`s use of Symbolism in "TheGrave"
Symbolismis one of the greatest elements if literature applied by KatherineAnne Porter with the intention of rejecting the ideality ofimpressions in her work. In ‘The Grave’, Porter’s use ofsymbolism happens in a manner that explores the consciousness andexperience of the audience to bring out a personal view of the text.The use of symbolism in “The Grave” largely revolves the life ofMiranda and Paul, who are the principal characters in Porter’sstory.
Mirandaand Paul can be seen as a manifestation of the difference betweenchildhood and adulthood as well as the process of maturity. Theirinteractions and memories of their mutual encounters tell much aboutthe transition of an individual from childhood to adulthood. Paulindicates higher levels of maturity compared to Miranda, especiallywhen it comes to the matters of death. While on the graveyard, Paulidentifies the coffin screw that seems to be a puzzle for Mirandashe shows very little interest and is rather overwhelmed by thegolden ring. When hunting, Miranda pointed out “with exasperatinginconsequence” that what she likes about shooting “is pulling thetrigger and hearing the noise” (Porter 364). Miranda’s statementindicates a significant degree of ignorance on the significance oflife, which changed after Paul discovered “a bundle of tinyrabbits, each wrapped in a thin scarlet veil” (366). She felt thatshe had begun learning about life and “the very memory of herformer ignorance faded” (366).
Whileexploring the graveyard, Miranda discovers a silver dove that sheexchanges with Paul for the golden ring. Although the silver dove mayhave different semblances in the story, the consideration of it as asymbol of purity and innocence is most appropriate, especially withregard to the point it appears in Miranda’s life. The “silverdove no larger than a hazel nut, with spread wings and a neatfan-shaped tail” has been historically praised by differentreligions as a symbol of purity, as was it was the case with youngMiranda before she learnt more about life. On the other hand, thesilver dove can be a symbol of peace that is found upon deathMiranda found the ring in her grandfather’s old grave.
Thegolden ring does not only symbolize luxury but also Miranda’sfemininity that gradually evolves as she becomes more aware ofherself as a woman. Notably, Miranda recognizes with beauty, which isthe nature of an ideal woman even when the ring only fits on herthumb. She feels contented after having the ring and suggests to Paulthat they should leave the graveyard. It is the ring that madeMiranda realize she dressed like a boy rather than a girl “turnedher feelings against her overalls and sockless feet, toes stickingthrough the thick brown leather straps” that she had worn for years(365). She felt the instantaneous urge of becoming and lookingbeautiful by taking a cold bath and wear a dress.
Symbolism in “The Grave” by Porter is quiteeasy to spot and apply in understanding the story. The discussedsymbols highlight the journey of growth through discovery, especiallywhen it comes to Miranda who is an adult by the end of the story. Thetransitions in the life of the two characters, the silver dove, andgolden ring, as well as the grave and death interact in a unique wayto bring out Porter’s exceptional storytelling character.
Porter, Katherine Anne. The Collected Stories Of KatherineAnne Porter. Harvest/HBJ Book: New York, 1979. Print.