Sunstroke: Selected Stories of Ivan Bunin Symbols, Allegory and Motifs
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Written by Julia Wolf
Vagueness and uncertainty run through the story. It is not an accident that Bunin avoids mentioning names of the characters, as it would give concreteness, provide every reader with some personal, individual associations, while the writer tends to imagery, generalization. He does not want to describe the affair of two concrete people, but the affair itself, its commonness. Neither the name of the place is mentioned, it does not matter as it would have happened anywhere.
When thinking of a sunstroke one perceives it as a feeling of something lightning, inevitable, but leaving behind suffering, as it is not a pleasant experience. In the story it becomes a symbol of overwhelming power of passion, which brings delightful satisfaction but leaves deep grief behind. Passion is the main key factor directing the main characters. And the passion of these people becomes something painful. As from an overabundance of the sun bad luck happens, strong feelings as well may leave sensation of mental and physical pain. But, according to Bunin, it is the beauty of love.
River is the main background for these relationships to develop. It is on the steamer on the river they meet, and it is where they part. It is not by accident the author chooses river as a place for these two to meet. Being a symbol of inevitable flow of time the river becomes important for realizing that nothing is everlasting, it runs, flows, pours and cannot be stopped. As well as the passion of the heroes, which has overwhelmed them as a wave, and has streamed away. River also is considered as a symbol of loss, which can be applied as well for the situation.
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