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“Symbolism of Snow” Story Essay (Critical Writing)


The story, “Snow”, by Ann Beattie is a story of love and the brevity of the happy moments in life. The story reveals just how a short, seemingly insignificant moment in life, can end up being forever etched in the memory of a person. The author seems to deviate from the conventional outlook on life and the meaning of life experiences. This is clearly revealed in the significance that the snow and the winter season have upon her life.

This is contrasted in the man’s, her lover, perception of the same snow that seems so significant and nostalgic to the narrator. The other objects in the story which are associated with snow and enhance the symbolism include the snow plow and wallpaper. This essay will show how snow has been used symbolically in the story and how the symbols expressed are different for the man and the woman.

For the woman, who also happens to be the narrator and protagonist in the story, snow represents the nostalgic memory she has of a love affair that happened during a winter in the country. One of the ways in which the snow is used to evoke this memory is the way she remembers the man. She recalls a special instance when the man asked her to teach him how to tie a white towel on his head like a turban.

This specific incidence brought to her mind the picture of a “crazy king of snow.” This is how she regarded the man as he went about shoveling the walk. The snow is thus symbolically used to signify the territory upon which the man was king as he worked.

For the man, however, the same event brings different meaning and symbolism. The man, ironically, regards the snowy night as cold, grim and very boring due to its repetitiveness. This contrast in perception of snow is enhanced when the narrator says that “you remember it differently.”

The man also wishes that the woman would not mention the snow by telling her that “any life will seem dramatic if you omit mention of most of it” (Shreve & Nguyen, 2005).

To the man, the snow was everything that was wrong with the story. However, to the woman, the whole story revolved around, and was defined by, the snow. The woman recalls the man as being the king of the snow, but the man only remembers the incidence as a tedious chore that he would have done without.

The woman also uses the snow to symbolize the ideal world. This is clearly brought out when she recalls looking up at the sky and then thinking of the snow that was falling: “It seemed that the world had been turned upside down, and we were looking into an enormous field of Queen Anne’s lace.”

This is a paradoxical symbolism of snow because Queen Anne’s lace is a flower that grows in the summer. The final symbolism that the narrator uses for the snow is how she perceives her lips to move when she says the word “snow.” To her, snow is a romantic word because her lips form the shape of a kiss whenever she says the word.

Reference

Shreve, P. & Nguyen, B. M. (2005). 30/30: Thirty American Stories from the Last Thirty Years. London: Longman Publishers.

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IvyPanda. 2019. ""Symbolism of Snow" Story." July 1, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/symbolism-of-snow-story/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) '"Symbolism of Snow" Story'. 1 July.

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