In the short story, “Death Of A Traveling Salesman,” R. J. Bowman is a successful salesman with the intention to get home after being sick and in the hospital. He faces many obstacles along the way. Even though R. J. Bowman knows that there is something missing in his life he has no desire to try and bring it into his life. He realizes he is only a salesman and that is all he will ever be. There are symbols in the story that show a shadow over Bowman’s life. Darkness is the most significant that occurs throughout the story, and light is also a significant part of the story. Mr. Bowman likes to cover up his true feelings by ignoring them or literally covering them up. Through the symbolism of darkness and light, Eudora Welty shows the reality of the loveless void in R. J. Bowman’s life.
From the beginning of the story the darkness of Bowman’s situation reflects the emptiness of his past and the bleakness of his future. Bowman is a salesman who is just getting out of the hospital recovering from an illness. An illness that is causes him to forget the way to Beulah. Driving down the road “…Bowman stuck his head out of the dusty car to stare up the road…” (204), this is the first sign of dark symbolism. There is a dusty residue on his car and he is trying to see out of his window, the window of life. There is something in his life that is cloudy, or there is something missing in his life. He is standing at the beginning of his life looking down a dirt path that only has one route, which is striving to be the best salesman he can be, and nothing more.
Bowman’s life has two parts to it, half of his life is happy and the other half is full of darkness and sadness. After his car goe...
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...for business. He covered his heart as he has done all his life, he has covered up the darkness so no one else could see it, and so no one could try and help him. He did not want to be loved he wanted to be a salesman and a salesman only.
Welty uses symbolism such as darkness and light to show R. J. Bowman’s struggles of loneliness that he notices while he is sick and lost. He finds that he is a salesman that can never love nor be loved. By covering his heart in the end of the story the reader discovers that he will never be loved, and he dies an unloved salesman. He dies with half of his life in darkness and the other half lighted. He dies a half happy, half sad salesman.
Welty, E. “Death Of A Traveling Salesman.” Selected Short Stories of Eudora Welty. Ed. Katherine Anne Porter. Random House, Inc ed, 1992. 204-222.
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