The Brown Chest By John Updike Analysis

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There is a sentimental value that is attached to every families’ collection of heirlooms and keepsakes. No matter how long these items remain in storage or are hidden away; their representation always stays the same, they keep people connected to their family roots. Author John Updike’s short story, “The Brown Chest” uses symbolism and imagery and sensory writing to focus on the idea that family memories never fade away and material things can maintain a deeper meaning no matter what they endure. John Updike appeals to the reader’s senses to allow them to connect with what is occurring in the story on a more profound level. He begins the story by writing from the main character’s childhood perspective. He provides a sense of wonder and amazement at the chest and its content. He does this to allow the reader to understand how long the chest has been around. While some other childhood information is provided, the chest is the most detailed…show more content…
However, the focal item is the chest, which carries the most amount of memories and has survived several generations of family. Updike encompasses this by writing, “… out swooped, with the same vividness that had astonished and alarmed his nostrils as a child, the sweetish deep cedary smell, undiminished, cedar and camphor and paper and cloth, the smell of family, family without end” (pg. 704). The chest has been handed down to multiple people and the contents have slowly been added to for years. The concept behind “The Brown Chest” is that no matter what has gone into it or where it has been taken, it has been a part of the same family. The items found inside are links to members that have long passed, that are still living, and to those that have not been born yet. The chest itself may reach a point where it cannot hold anything anymore, however, the memories found inside will last
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