This week, you are going to be doing two things. The major assignment this week
This week, you are going to be doing two things. The major assignment this week is to write the first essay for this class. And because you have to write the essay, you only have to read one very short story: “The Cranes” by Peter Meinke. But despite its brevity, it is rich with symbolism, and this is what we are going to focus on this week.
The word “Symbol” is one of those words that everyone knows, but very few people can define clearly. The usual definition I get from students is, “A symbol is something that represents something else.” Well, that’s only part of it. A symbol is indeed some thing; it can be a physical object, a drawing or illustration, or any other substantive thing. But the thing that the object represents is never another object. For example, a pencil can’t symbolize a pen. Rather, a symbol is something that represents something bigger, Like an abstract idea, or belief. For example, the flag we see every day with the stars and stripes, which is only a piece of cloth, symbolizes the idea of the United States of America. Or a dove, which is a bird, symbolizes the concept of peace. In literature, just just as in everyday life, symbols are common, but one of the ways that we can differentiate good literature from mediocre or bad literature is that in good literature, an author will invent the meaning for their symbol. When writers or poets adopt symbols that we already know about, those writers are using clichés. When evaluating literature, you always have to be on the lookout for symbols and metaphors that are commonplace, for they will indicate that the writer or poet isn’t very good. For example, if you’re reading a poem or story where someone uses a line like “Every rose has its thorn,” or, “My heart is broken in a million pieces,” or, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” you know that the writer is not working too hard.
Luckily, the story we are reading this week contains a symbol that the author has invented. That is, he has taken a common object and imbued it with a significance that you probably haven’t heard before. In this case, the symbol is identified in the title, but you won’t understand its significance until you finish the story. So the question I’m asking on the discussion board this week is very simple: what does the symbol in the story represent? So read it carefully and think critically. I look forward to reading your responses.
1. You have just read Peter Meinke’s “The Cranes.” As I mentioned in this week’s welcome, this week’s topic is theme. The major symbols of this story are the whooping cranes that the protagonists are watching from their car. What do you think these birds are symbolic of? Why do you think so?
2. As I stated in my lecture for this week, “The Cranes” has to be read carefully or you might miss what happens at the conclusion. How do you interpret what happens? Explain how you came to your opinion.
Please remember that you have to put up one initial post of at least 250 words