Symbolism in Bernard Malamud's The Natural

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Symbolism in Bernard Malamud's The Natural

The role of symbolism in Bernard Malamud's The Natural is important in helping the reader understand the theme and meaning of the novel as well as the time period in which it took place. Malamud¡¦s use of symbolism defines the character of Roy Hobbs and shows how the events occurring around him affected his decisions and, eventually, his career.

Symbolism in The Natural takes the form of characters, such as women who strongly influenced Roy; historical events, such as the infamous 1919 World Series scandal; and even Greek and Roman mythology. All forms of symbolism used by Malamud are woven into the life and career of Roy Hobbs.

As a first example, women have a tremendous influence on Roy¡¦s actions and feelings. One of the more influential symbols in the book, women tend to control what Roy does. The first woman Roy falls for is Harriet Bird whom he meets on a train on his way to Chicago to try out for the Chicago Cubs. Roy is extremely attracted to her, but a major league ballplayer on the train named Whammer Wambold has already caught her eye. Roy becomes jealous and begins to do things to try to get her attention. At a stop in the route, the passengers get off for a break and go to a local carnival where Roy and the big leaguer clash in a contest of talent, a David-and-Goliath-type confrontation (Solotaroff 9). Roy strikes out the batter with three blistering pitches, each of which make Harriet pay more and more attention to him. As they arrive in Chicago, Harriet stays at the hotel at which Roy has booked a room. She gives him a call and provocatively invites him to her room. Succumbing to her invitation, and making his way to her room, he enters and se...

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...he symbolism in The Natural is deep-seeded and is found by the reader upon reflection on the book. Therefore, understanding Malamud¡¦s use of symbolism is critical in understanding The Natural, its background, its times, and its meaning.


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