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Symbolism in Birdsong Research Papers

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Throughout the novel, Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulks, there are numerous symbols, something that is characteristic of his overall writing style. The most obvious symbol that can be found throughout the novel is the presence of various birds, each symbolizing something different at each point in time.

  • Caged birds represent the entrapment of Stephen, the main character who has been forced to go off to fight World War I despite any of his own objections. Symbolism in Birdsong
  • In some areas of the novel, birds represent impending doom, seen in the dark-colored bird that beats its wings furiously against the glass in one of Stephen’s dreams.
  • After the very end of the novel, a crow that had been roosting in a tree is disturbed. Faulks writes that it “erupted from the branches with an explosive bang of its wings,” symbolizing the cyclical nature of our experiences.

For now, it might seem that all is at peace with Stephen and his family, but it will only be a matter of time before the next generation will be forced to face a devastating conflict of their own.

At the end of the novel, one of the most widely-used symbolism is presented: birth. At the close, Stephen’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, gives birth to a baby boy and names him after one of Stephen’s companions that were killed in the war. This symbolizes the rebirth of Stephen’s past, seen equally in Elizabeth’s determination to learn more about her family history. She is making a direct connection to the stories her grandfather can share, developing a new layer of depth to her understanding of and appreciation for his experiences. His memories will be reborn and revisited, this time seen through the eyes of a young woman two generations removed. While many might criticize this symbol as being a cliché, it is representative of the author’s ability to incorporate a time-honored writing style in a unique way.

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