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Everything I Never Told You: Analysis of Symbolism
In Celeste Ng’s harrowing modern novel Every little thing I In no way Told You, the rain, the lake, and other water-connected symbols demonstrate both angles, representing death and rebirth be it literal or figurative. This story of a Chinese American family in the 1970s tells of a heart-wrenching tragedy that in the end dismantles the carefully constructed front keeping the characters with each other, and it is the integral setting for loss and starting anew. The Lee loved ones loses their favored youngster Lydia to a mysterious drowning in a nearby lake, and then they have to learn how to forgive their mistakes and place the pieces of their shattered lives back collectively once more. Whilst water is undoubtedly an entity of dual purpose, Ng combines the image of it as a restorative life force with that of it as a destructive and deadly energy to provide a keen insight on the cyclic nature of human life.
Throughout the novel there are occasions when water comes into play right after an internal conflict is resolved to represent a positive modify in a character, a rebirth or renewal of spirit. This symbolism even manifests itself in Lydia Lee’s inability to swim simply because she “would not even come near the water”, representing this lack of spiritual growth and optimistic change in Lydia (Ng 24). In literature, when one is submerged in water and lives, this is a sort of baptism, and “the self who bobs to the surface and clings to the sailboat is a new being” (Foster 83). Lydia’s refusal to accept this prospective baptism by not studying to swim is reflected in the stubborn stasis of her character’s persona of subservience to her parent’s wishes. In contrast, even when Lydia’s brother Nath wills himself to die by drowning when he falls into the lake throughout his fight with Jack, he realizes “It’s as well late. He’s already discovered how not to drown” and he lets himself float to the surface (Ng 290). Nath’s submersion represents a alter in his demeanor, and the feelings of anger and confusion have figuratively been washed away. At this point, he accepts that Lydia is gone and acknowledges that he have to move on with his family and his personal future endeavors. As soon as this symbolic baptism has taken place and Nath surfaces, he focuses on his youngest sister Hannah so as to not drop sight of her and to keep his new convictions (Ng 292).
Likewise, soon after going to her childhood property to make sure her recently deceased mother’s issues are in order, Lydia’s mother Marilyn accepts her shift in principles as she stands in the road on her journey back to let the rain drench her fully, demonstrating that “rain can be restorative and cleansing” (Foster 84). Marilyn has a revelation on her drive back to her family members the only memorable factor about her mother was the meals she ready. Fearing that she will eventually grow to be like her mother whom she looked down upon, a housewife only to be valued for her domestic servitude, Marilyn vows, “Never. I will never finish up like that” (Ng 86). She voluntarily permits the heavy rain to douse her, and even claims the drops sound like an applause. When she gets back into her auto, she removes her garments, shedding her old complacency for a new conviction. She is unclothed, vulnerable, and exposed as one is in birth, but instead of getting embarrassed by this denudation, she admires it as she is proud of her new self (Ng 86). This is the starting of a new chapter in Marilyn’s life throughout which she vows to be professionally considerable in the healthcare field presently dominated by males, or else force Lydia into this function so that she might live vicariously by way of her. Ironically, Marilyn’s fervor in her reborn identity is in element what drives Lydia to venture out onto the lake that fated night and expertise the other a lot more negative side of water symbolism.
Despite the fact that water has the capacity to give new life and meaning to a person, it can also suddenly and mercilessly take it away. Every drowning in literature serves its personal particular goal, and in some circumstances can be symbolic of character revelation and failure (Foster 85). In Lydia’s case, she realizes she has been drowning figuratively for very some time as she tries to fulfill the conflicting wishes of every single of her parents in her every day life with no taking a moment to take into account her personal happiness. Her life is pulled to and fro by a present of fear – fear of losing her father’s love, of her mother leaving their loved ones again for great, of her brother forgetting about her in college across the nation. It is only a matter of time just before she can not preserve herself afloat with this false identity and gets swallowed up in the depths of her misery. There is no where for Lydia to turn she has waded as well deep into a tide of falsities, and so on her final night: She looked down at the lake, which in the dark looked like nothing at all, just blackness, a great void spreading beneath her. It would be all proper, she told herself, and she stepped out of the boat into the water. (Ng 276). Lydia comes to terms with her blunders, but for her it is also late. The lake erases all evidence of the complexly fabricated life she lived out of fear of abandonment, and eventually she have to die to be rid of the painful phony parallel of how she must have lived.
Everything I Never Told You explains the duality of water, and its energy to give and take life illustrated by the convoluted lives of the Lee household. In all its forms, water is a cleansing entity that adjustments the prevalent flaws in literary figures, normally by correcting and adjusting the flaw or eliminating that broken figure altogether. There is a particular fluidity to human nature, a pattern of ups and downs reflected in the way individuals in literature are affected by the precipitation and bodies of water in their setting, which can be sustaining and destructive alternately and without having warning. Imagery and symbolism having to do with water have such a prominent and recurring function in literature since its significance in terms of survival and modify can take on a multitude of meanings. With the power to be both inhibiting and freeing, water is an specifically important life force.
Foster, Thomas C. “If She Comes Up, It is Baptism.” How to Study Literature like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Among the Lines. New York: Quill, 2003. Print.
Ng, Celeste. Almost everything I Never ever Told You. New York: Penguin, 2014. Print.
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