How to Read Literature Like a Professor - Chapters 12-18 Summary & Analysis

Thomas C. Foster
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Summary

Chapter 12 – In this chapter, Foster speaks to the importance of symbols and the forms they take. Foster explains that questions on whether or not something is a symbol are the most common kinds of questions he gets in class. Symbols cannot be reduced to meaning only one thing. A white flag, for example, means surrender or coming-in-peace. If a symbol has only one meaning, then it is not a symbol, but allegory. In an allegory, one thing stands for one other thing. For example, “Animal Farm”, George Orwell’s 1945 novel is clear in its representation of Communism. For a symbol, Foster provides the 1924 example of E.M. Forster’s “A Passage to India”, in which caves can mean many things. Plato’s famous philosophical cave has to do with human perception and understanding, while to early man, caves are a source of shelter...

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This section contains 1,957 words
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