Mid-Term Break

Mid-Term Break Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Snowdrops (Symbol)

Snowdrops are another name for the white flower Galanthus, which is often grown in Ireland, where "Mid-Term Break" is set. In culture and the arts, they are often used as symbols of springtime, hope, and purity: here, they serve as symbols of the brother's extremely young age, giving the traditional connotation of purity a melancholy turn. At the same time, they suggest the renewal of life following death and the inevitability of hope. More broadly, the snowdrops symbolize the brother himself. In the same stanza in which the snowdrops are mentioned, the speaker notes that his brother is pale, strengthening the parallel between the boy and the flowers.

Box (Symbol)

The speaker refuses to refer to his brother's coffin as a coffin, opting for the more neutral-sounding "box" and thereby hinting that he is somewhat unwilling to face his brother's death. At the same time, the coffin symbolizes the finality of death. The choice of the word "box" is a harsh reminder that the deceased has, in a sense, transitioned to the status of an object rather than a living thing. The speaker repeatedly notes the finite, small size of the coffin, not merely in order to hint at the brother's young age, but also seemingly to reflect on the shocking finality and limitedness of death in comparison to the seeming limitlessness and dynamism of life.