Symbolism, By Hannah Vosckuil Essay

Symbolism, By Hannah Vosckuil Essay

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In her story “Currents” Hannah Vosckuil uses symbolism, and a reverse narrative structure to show the story of how unnamed sympathetic and antagonistic characters react differently to a traumatic event. Symbolism can be found in this story in the way that Gary does not mind sitting in the dark alone at the end of the day as well as how both of his girls are affected by the symbolism of hands. One holding a boy’s hand for the first time and the other becoming sick after seeing the dead boy’s hand fall off the stretcher. The sympathetic and antagonistic manner of these characters is shown when both girls are told by their grandmother that they must return to the water to swim the next day. The grandmother sees this simply as a way of encouraging them and keeping them from becoming afraid of the water. However, the girls see this as a scary proposition because of what had happened, showing the grandmother as an antagonist character to the little girls.
In this story both of the little girls are effected by hands. However, both in different ways. The first girl is being told as holding the hand of a boy for the first time. Voskuil writes, “one of the girls held the hand of a wordless Filipina boy. His was the first hand she’d ever held.” (468). The mention of how this was the first time she held a boys hand also points to the fact that it may be in a way more than to simply comfort the boy. Holding hands can symbolize many different things, such as strength, togetherness, as well as being a way to comfort others, or even as a showing of romantic feelings. This girl seems to be doing it to comfort the boy, however she may have feelings for this boy beyond the guilt for his brother. Voskuil also states, “They were watching the paramed...


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...e dead boy’s brother gives the two girls a sense of empathy. Showing the reader’s empathy makes the girls look more sympathetic, the readers start to feel bad for the characters because of what they have been through. Voskuil uses this to expand the story to show more dimension and emotion in such a short story.
Hannah Voskuil uses symbolism, in addition to antagonistic and sympathetic characters in her story “Currents” to express to readers the effects of traumatic events as well as showing the different ways individuals cope with them. Voskuil uses sympathetic characters to show those who take time to recover and antagonistic characters to show how others can jump right back in the water. Although Voskuil’s story is only a page and a half, she pulls the readers in with her narration and reverse narrative structure and shows them how powerful so few words can be.

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