Chocolat Question #14 - Symbolism

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Chocolat Question #14 - Symbolism

Unread postby Liz » Mon Jun 12, 2006 5:12 am

Other than the wind, give examples of symbolism used in the story.
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Unread postby luvdepp » Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:38 pm

The questions are certainly getting more difficult. Or I don't understand the question. :-? I'm not sure about symbolisms beyond what we've already talked about during previous questions in regards to the characters. Chocolate being a symbol for temptation and sin, wind being symbolic for change and escape. I think Charlie the dog was a symbol of the quality of life issue, along with Armande and how she choose to end her life. Pantoufe for the need for a sense of security and consistency. The Church and Reynaud as a symbol of intolerance and repression. (no offense intended to the Catholic Church) I'm sure there are more, but my brain is tired now.
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Unread postby Endora » Mon Jun 12, 2006 3:20 pm

What about the use of colours? She's very keen to let us know what colours people wear. Lively characters like Armande have some brightness about them; a contrast with the Black Man.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Jun 12, 2006 3:24 pm

Good synopsis of what we have found so far, luvdepp. I haven't had time today to give this question proper thought (event though I knew it was coming :blush: )

Endora, I like your thought on colors. I think Armande's red petticoat might be another example.
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Unread postby Raven » Mon Jun 12, 2006 3:33 pm

I was thinking also of the color red, when Vianne and Anouk arrive they are wearing red cloaks.

And maybe the river is a symbol, you can come and go like the wind, on the river?

I may have to think some more....
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Unread postby Bix » Mon Jun 12, 2006 4:06 pm

I thought of color when I read the question, but haven't been able to get here before now to post. Red, for sure, symbolizes independence, individuality, defiance, liveliness, vigor. The villagers are described as being drab and colorless or black, whereas Vianne and Anouk are dressed in bright colors and Armande has her hidden red petticoats and then her red hat, gloves and shoes for her party. Roux has his red hair. Luc gives his grandmother the red slip. Even Josephine, who is so drab and beaten down when we first meet her, has a tartan coat, which might not be a bright color, but which I think indicates she will grow and gain her confidence. Vianne has her red geraniums and the red and white striped awnings. I'm sure there are even more examples.

I thought about the river also, Raven, but I'm not sure what it represents. It certainly brought Roux and the gypsies to change everyone's lives. As you say, it could be likened to the wind in a way.
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Unread postby Liz » Mon Jun 12, 2006 4:14 pm

Endora wrote:What about the use of colours? She's very keen to let us know what colours people wear. Lively characters like Armande have some brightness about them; a contrast with the Black Man.


I was really hoping that someone would bring up the use of color, as Endora pointed out. She uses color quite frequently, although I don’t always know the meaning behind it. In this particular case it’s quite obvious that the colors she wears represent her wild and untamable nature:

Pg. 197.
“Her hair, her clothes; perpetually wind-torn, wildflower colors, orange and yellow and polka-dotted and floral-patterned. In the wild, a parakeet among sparrows would soon be torn apart for its bright plumage.” The wind is used again here also.

Raven, I hadn't thought of the river. But it makes perfect sense.

Luvdepp, I have to admit that we have covered the major uses of symbolism already. But can you think of any other smaller uses of symbolism?
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Unread postby luvdepp » Mon Jun 12, 2006 4:30 pm

I love the idea of color as symbolism. Especially the color red. And in contrast to The Black Man and the drabness of the village before Vianne and Anouk arrived. I was thinking about the river also, but I'm not sure what exactly it symbolizes, except like has been mentioned ~ change and movement. I know that church bells tolling are mentioned throughout the book. Symbolic of the church calling the flock home and way from temptations? That wouldn't be what the sound meant to Vianne though. Maybe to her the sound of the church bells symbolizes a threat in some way? To her way of life and freedom? I don't have the book with me and don't remember specifically how she refers to them.
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Unread postby Theresa » Mon Jun 12, 2006 4:58 pm

How about the symbolism of the weeds and wildflowers? They are frequently mentioned in the story, representing Vianne and the freedom she brings to the town, and also how Reynaud sees her – as a weed that spreads and destroys the order he so desperately craves.

Page 56 – Reynaud: And she is my enemy. I feel it immediately. [. . .]It is merely my sense of order that is offended, as a conscientious gardener might take offense at a patch of seedling dandelions. The seed of discord is everywhere, mon pere. And it spreads. It spreads.

Page 26 – Vianne: I sent them [the children] out with a sugar mouse each and watched them fan across the square like dandelion seeds in the wind.

Page 223 – Reynaud: When I am not going about my duties in the parish, I work in the churchyard, digging the beds and weeding around the graves. There has been neglect there for the past two years, and I am conscious of a feeling of unease when I see what riot there is now in that hitherto orderly garden. [. . .] We were given mastery over these things the Bible tells us. And yet I feel no mastery. What I feel is a kind of helplessness, for as I dig and prune and cut, the serried green armies simply fill the spaces at my back, pushing out long green tongues of derision at my efforts.

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Jun 12, 2006 6:53 pm

theresa wrote:How about the symbolism of the weeds and wildflowers? They are frequently mentioned in the story, representing Vianne and the freedom she brings to the town, and also how Reynaud sees her – as a weed that spreads and destroys the order he so desperately craves.

Page 56 – Reynaud: And she is my enemy. I feel it immediately. [. . .]It is merely my sense of order that is offended, as a conscientious gardener might take offense at a patch of seedling dandelions. The seed of discord is everywhere, mon pere. And it spreads. It spreads.

Page 26 – Vianne: I sent them [the children] out with a sugar mouse each and watched them fan across the square like dandelion seeds in the wind.

Page 223 – Reynaud: When I am not going about my duties in the parish, I work in the churchyard, digging the beds and weeding around the graves. There has been neglect there for the past two years, and I am conscious of a feeling of unease when I see what riot there is now in that hitherto orderly garden. [. . .] We were given mastery over these things the Bible tells us. And yet I feel no mastery. What I feel is a kind of helplessness, for as I dig and prune and cut, the serried green armies simply fill the spaces at my back, pushing out long green tongues of derision at my efforts.


Good catch, Theresa. And Ms. Harris illustrates their different attitudes towards them: Vianne looks at the seeds in the wind as a positive thing--like birds developing their wings and learning to fly. But Reynaud sees weeds and people like Vianne as a negative thing--as an annoyance or a virus.

"Long green tongues" sounds so evil.
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Unread postby PhD » Mon Jun 12, 2006 7:07 pm

Well, we're getting into topics where I have major problems finding original thoughts to contribute. When I read today's question, I had no idea of any symbolism used other than chocolate and wind, but after reading everyone's responses, the symbolism is clear as day! Hopefully, I'll get better at these sorts of questions as we go along.

Keep up the excellent responses you literary Zoners!!! :grin:
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Unread postby Bix » Mon Jun 12, 2006 7:33 pm

PhD wrote: Hopefully, I'll get better at these sorts of questions as we go along.
I can guarantee that after a few discussions, you will get better. (Not that your postings aren't already very good!) With so many literate answers, it isn't always possible to be original - especially if you come late to the discussion. But you will get more confident about saying things like, "I thought of that too - and here's my take on it. . ." and adding whatever bits you thought out.

Theresa, I love that you pointed out the weeds/wildflower symbolism. It's so true, especially the contrast of Vianne's and Reynaud's attitudes toward the dandelion seeds.

And, luvdepp, the church bells were mentioned many times throughout the story, so they must mean something also. If they were not exactly a threat to her way of life, I think they at least always reminded Vianne of how different she and her way of life were from the life of the average villager.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Jun 12, 2006 8:18 pm

PhD wrote:Well, we're getting into topics where I have major problems finding original thoughts to contribute. When I read today's question, I had no idea of any symbolism used other than chocolate and wind, but after reading everyone's responses, the symbolism is clear as day! Hopefully, I'll get better at these sorts of questions as we go along.

Keep up the excellent responses you literary Zoners!!! :grin:


PhD, Bix is right. Just remember there are no wrong answers at ONBC! Believe me, I learn something from everyone who posts here and I certainly don't have all the answers! What often happens for me is that one thought will spur something, sometimes days later too. :lol: So remember you can always come back and add your thoughts. :cool:

I was having a thought about the bells, actually spurred by Sands comment in OUATIM. :yikes: :lol: The bells are a constant reminder and symbol of how the church, and Reynaud, pervade the town on a daily basis. Remember the story of the Easter bells and how they flew to Rome and brought back of all things chocolate?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Jun 12, 2006 9:32 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
PhD wrote:Well, we're getting into topics where I have major problems finding original thoughts to contribute. When I read today's question, I had no idea of any symbolism used other than chocolate and wind, but after reading everyone's responses, the symbolism is clear as day! Hopefully, I'll get better at these sorts of questions as we go along.

Keep up the excellent responses you literary Zoners!!! :grin:


PhD, Bix is right. Just remember there are no wrong answers at ONBC! Believe me, I learn something from everyone who posts here and I certainly don't have all the answers! What often happens for me is that one thought will spur something, sometimes days later too. :lol: So remember you can always come back and add your thoughts. :cool:

I was having a thought about the bells, actually spurred by Sands comment in OUATIM. :yikes: :lol: The bells are a constant reminder and symbol of how the church, and Reynaud, pervade the town on a daily basis. Remember the story of the Easter bells and how they flew to Rome and brought back of all things chocolate?


Wow! You found the reference on the bells, DITHOT.

PhD I echo what DITHOT said. Also I have this unfair advantage that I know the questions ahead of time, and in some cases, like today, I have earmarked pages with the answers. But in other cases you guys have much more insight than I do.
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Unread postby Liz » Mon Jun 12, 2006 9:52 pm

I thought this was interesting on pg. 43. Vianne thinks this of Reynaud:

They remind me so much of you.

A dozen of my best huitres de Saint-Malo, those small, flat pralines shaped to look like tightly closed oysters.”



In the 17th century oysters (traditionally a symbol of lust) were thought to be an aphrodisiac. And in a dream an oyster is the symbol of: Withdrawal, going within, meditating, cultivating your inner treasures, transformation

I think Vianne picked this symbol because Reynaud had a tight control on his lust or any forms of pleasure or enjoyment in life. Plus he had many secrets. And he was "flat"--as in boring.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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