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Written by Micola Magdalena
After the disastrous party where Jim embarrassed himself because of his behavior, Jim returns home from a night of drinking. He soon finds that the doors he wants to open to get to his room are all locked and this is one of the main reasons why he sees Bertrand Welch embracing Carol Goldsmith. Later, Jim runs into Margaret and they start kissing, something that Jim will regret later. The locked doors are used here as a symbol to show that Jim has little to no control over his life. Even though he wants to do something, he is not let to do it by fate that pushes him into another direction.
While the location where the action takes place is not clearly stated, it is suggested that the college where Jim teaches is in the Southern part of England. Whenever Jim feels sad and disappointed, he dreams about going to London to start over. Thus, it is clear that for him, London is a symbol and it represents the life he wants to have and it is also used to symbolize a perfect place where every dream can come true.
Welch is an important character in the novel because of what it represents. Welch is among the only characters that was born before the beginning of the World Wars and was old enough to remember how it was before them. Welch is thus used here as a symbol for the old times that passed and this is clearly understood from the idea that he has. Welch continues to cling to the way the world used to be and seems to be reluctant to accept change and to accept that the world changed.
Usually in literature, fire is a metaphor for cleansing and for returning to a pure, primordial state. Here however, fire is destructive and damaging without helping the main character be cleansed from the sins from their past. In one instance, Jim falls asleep with a cigarette lit up and when he wakes up, the bead sheets and the table are badly burnt, putting him in the position to ask someone else for help to hide what had happened. The burns symbolize the damage done by Jim in various social contexts when he behaves in ways he should have not and thus ended up offending those around him.
Jim never believed his work to be important, and thus he never put too much effort in teaching his students and writing his papers. For him, his classes became the way through which he could meet with three beautiful girls instead of being the way through which he teaches his students and passes on information. Because of this, his syllabi and the lack of commitment and willingness to make the syllabi attractive to his students symbolize his lack of interest for the subjects he teaches.
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