This Boy's Life: A Memoir

Symbolism in This Boy's Life 11th Grade

Symbolism is a literary device used throughout literature in which a concrete image represents something deeper and more implicit. It is an effective strategy used to enhance the meanings of novels and memoirs and also to reveal certain things about characters within the text. In the memoir This Boy’s Life, Tobias Wolff is a young boy trying to find himself with his mother Rosemary, and the two are always together and on the move throughout the United States. When Rosemary mistakenly settles down with Dwight, Wolff must adapt to the situation, a tough thing for him to do. Throughout the memoir, Wolff uses symbolism in many different scenarios to extend the reader’s knowledge of the young Wolff. As Wolff searches for himself, and his new step-father tries to deny him doing that, Wolff’s real character is revealed. In the memoir This Boy’s Life, Tobias Wolff uses the symbolism of a dead beaver, a spawning pool of salmon, and a .22 Winchester Rifle to represent how mistreated Wolff is throughout his young life.

The symbol of the beaver crossing the road that Dwight purposely runs over with his car represents Wolff and what will take place in the future between him and Dwight. When driving Toby to his new home, Dwight “pulled the...

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