Here’s the scoop. If you can understand your friends’ body piercings,
you can figure out the symbols in any novel on this planet. More on that—next. A symbol is something that represents something
else. But how do you know when a lighthouse is just
a lighthouse—or when that otherwise-ordinary object stands for something else entirely? Like I said: Think about your friends’ body
piercings. Because when is a tongue stud ever just a tongue stud, right? Here’s what I mean. Maybe your friend got
that cartilege piercing just because it looks pretty freaking awesome. Or maybe the kid behind you in chemistry just
likes having a post through his lower lip. Or maybe all these elective wounds actually
mean something. Independence, rebellion, individuality, spunk. You know, they’re symbols. Symbols in literature are like that, too.
They beg for you to look deeper. Often, they’ll reappear several times—as
though the author’s trying to make sure you get the point. But even if they don’t, symbols
tend to stand out. And if they aren’t standing out? Start asking
yourself the question: What is this author trying to say? When you figure that out, the symbols will
pop. And so, I bet, will your grades.