The use of imagery and symbolism in literal works has been in use over the years. In essence, imagery enables readers to create a mental picture of the events in the story. An ability to visualize the story helps the readers to better understand as well as memorize it if necessary. Symbolism in literature denotes the use of signs. This form of writing can be achieved through the use of similes and metaphors. The use of symbols enables writers to create exciting stories, which entertain the readers as well as make them learn a lot from the stories. With a help of symbols, the writers are able to present the real life situations in an artistic manner. The main objective of this paper is to focus on the way the writers have implemented symbolism and imaginary in the two stories: “The Open Boat” and “Janus”. It also aims at identifying the main themes of the stories. In comparison to ‘Janus’ and ‘The Open Boat’, symbolism and imagery has been used to represent a number of aspects, among these are; the contemporary world and personal turmoil that individuals go through as well as the varied survival tactics that people implement.
In the story “The Open Boat”, a means of imagery has been employed to demonstrate the coexistence between a man and nature. The story describes the men, which are trapped at sea and can only rely on nature in order to get rescued. The story presents the struggles that people go through in attempts to survive. People and nature tend to coexist and rely on each other. For instance, people depend on nature, because they need air, food, and water. On the other hand, nature depends on people, because they know how to maintain it. The four men trapped at sea experience a number of challenges before they are rescued. The story presents the readers with both aspects of life, namely the negative and positive forces that make life intriguing. The four men are put through hard moments by the sea waves, “…the boat bounced from the top of each wave…”(Crane n.pag.)
In “The Open Boat”, the writer has employed a means of symbolism. The title of the story represents the world in general. The use of the word “open” helps to reveal the availability of choices people are often presented with in their life. The world does not insist to follow a specific pattern but presents different options, which can be used in order to make choices. A boat itself portrays the various aspects of life that people go through in their life. For instance, the boat sways at sea just like people do during their life experience. The boat is usually considered unsteady, especially when at sea. Similarly, people usually face varied situations that make their life interesting and unique. Furthermore, the situation of the four men at sea can symbolize the need for unity. Usually, people tend to rely on each other for survival and support. The story “The Open Boat” presents the basic relevance of humanity. This is demonstrated by the way the four men have adjusted to each other’s different characters, which eventually enables them to reach the shore and survive the turmoil at sea “…the subtle brotherhood of men…and each man felt it warm him” (Crane n.pag.)
In the story “Janus”, the writer has creatively used symbolism to represent a number of different issues. First, the story seems to focus more on the ‘bowl’, which seems to be very attractive to the main character, Andrea. The bowl symbolizes the character’s feelings (Beattie n.pag.). For instance, Andrea appears to be lonely and attaches herself to the bowl. She considers it the source of her success, “She was sure that the bowl had brought her luck” (Beattie n.pag.). From the story, we can see the loneliness Andrea feels inside despite being married. The protagonist has an internal desire to feel appreciated. Additionally, the bowl symbolizes the detachment that exists between Andrea and her husband, “…she would remove all the other objects from a table… she didn’t care about them…just wanted them out of sight” (Beattie n.pag.). Here we see the distance that exists between Andrea and her husband. She secretly wishes to get separated from her husband and be with her lover. The end of the story proves this, “Her pitcher had been moved to the far side of the chest, and the bowl pre-dominated” (Beattie n.pag.). It shows that Andrea did not care much about her husband as she always had some space for her lover in their marriage.
In addition, the bowl can also be considered a representation of the world in which Andrea lives “…a world full of tricks” (Beattie n.pag.). Just as the world, which consists of different people implementing various means of survival, the bowl is designed in a unique manner that attracts the attention of the house buyers. The way it reflects the light and convinces the buyers that the house distributes light even in the dark corners refers to the way the bowl has enabled Andrea to bring back light into her life through her lover. She seems to be thrilled and happy when she thinks about the bowl, which she does not want to lose or damage. However, the bowl does not only symbolize a world of happiness for Andrea. It also represents a threat to her marriage. The phrase “…it never occurred to her that she might break it” portrays the danger she faces in breaking her marriage if her husband gets to learn about her unfaithfulness (Beattie n.pag.). This is the reason why Andrea takes extra care of the bowl in order not to damage it.
In summary, the two stories have utilized the two literal forms: imagery and symbolism in an extensive and appealing manner. However, there are varied ways that the writers have tried to create similar aspects in both stories. Whereas nature has been used in ‘The Open Boat’ to represent the general world setting, the writer in ‘Janus’ has used a simple bowl to represent the same concept. Additionally, the two stories have utilized symbolism and imagery in their title. ‘The Open Boat’ as established in the discussion portrays the extensive nature of the world as well as its instability through the sea waves. ‘Janus’ on the other hand reflects on the division in Andrea’s loyalty; between her husband and her lover. ‘Janus’ represents the god of doorways and thresholds and is often presented as possessing dual faces. Contradictorily, the two stories vary in the respect to the presentation of the protagonists. ‘The Open Boat’ presents a group setting and tends to advocate for the importance of embracing diversity in life; the characters represent different groups of people in society who coexist and are able to handle the problem at hand effectively. On the other hand, ’Janus’ presents an individualist point of view by focusing on the life of Andrea. In a way, the two stories try to create the impacts of working alone and in a group.