The Magic Barrel Analysis

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Symbols in Bernard Malamud 's "The Magic Barrel" Introduction A symbol is a word, place, character or object which has a range of meaning beyond itself. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating linkage between concepts and experiences. We are surrounded by symbols in our daily life. For example, rose symbolizes love; dove symbolizes peace; winter symbolizes death. In literature, symbols add brand new meanings to a story or make the story more profound. In this essay, the symbols in Bernard Malamud’s “The Magic Barrel” will be briefly discussed. The title itself “The Magic Barrel” has profound symbolic meanings. What is the magic barrel in this story? At the first time, Salzman met Leo at Leo’s home, he was questioned…show more content…
Another suggested symbol is beard. Some cultures view beard exemplifying virtues like maturity, strength and wisdom etc. In this story, beard symbolizes wisdom. Salzman is a man with wisdom. He gained his wisdom through rich life experience. As Salzman first appeared, author indicated Salzman was a man with wisdom through “his wisp of beard” . That was why Salzman would knew that Leo should be the right one who could save his daughter. Leo was inexperienced at first. Every time after he met someone, he would suffered from his innocence of society, as which made him realize and knew himself weakness. His meeting with Lily forced him to review his life and his true feelings of God. Hence the followed week was the worst of his life. He was suffered deeply but also increased understanding of himself which was implied by “his darkened and ragged beard.” When Leo moved by Stella’s face deeply, he learned evil with us all. He examined Stella’s face and “found it good”. In Genesis 1:4, “God saw that the light was good.” So maybe the God instructed Leo that the girl was good for you like light and to save the girl from evil would lead your way to God. Trough days of torment, Leo“concluded to convert her to goodness” at last. At the same time, he also became a wise man with “a pointed beard and eyes weighted with wisdom.” Finally, Leo gained wisdom from self-understanding and real life

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