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A symbol of Emily growing up is the fact that she pierced her ears, even after her parents forbid it, telling her she had to wait until she was seventeen. This shows defiance toward her parents, but also shows her becoming more dependent and able to make decisions on her own.
Emily’s father’s workstation, or table, where he made the flies symbolizes the world her father was in. It was in a secluded corner of the house, isolated from much contact with anyone but her father. Her father was trying to keep Emily like the table in a way, wanting to isolate her from the world of “boys” and everything else that comes with growing up.
Another symbol of Emily growing up were the golden darters, or streamers, which were the first fishing lures that Emily and her father made together. He described them as “a big flashy fly.” After Emily gets her ears pierced, she uses the golden darters to make herself look “flashier.” The purpose of the lures was to attract fish, but Emily was using them to attract members of the opposite sex. What was meant to be a typical fishing lure is now becoming a sexual lure. Twelve-year-old Emily is obviously trying to grow up, but her father is not ready for that yet. When she shows the new earrings to her father, he is not pleased with what he sees. He is not ready for his daughter to become a woman, yet there she is, standing in front of him, looking like one. It seems as though he is angry that she used the lures the way she did, but he really doesn’t know how else to express his feelings. When he says, “that is not the purpose for which the flies were intended,” he meant just that; the flies were not meant to be anything more than fishing lures.
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