Was Your English Lit Teacher Wrong About Symbolism?

You may have already known this, but your English teacher is full of shit. All that symbolism they have you chasing just isn’t there.

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You always wondered if your college lit professor was just making crap up.

Turns out, maybe they were.

This article from The Paris Review offers a revealing take by many famous authors on how much symbolism played a part in their work.

Their comments were prompted by a letter from a 16-year-old Bruce McCallister in 1963. He was tired of the constant find-the-symbolism game in English class, so he took it upon himself to ask them what the big deal was with symbolism.

He mailed a simple four-question survey to more than 150 novelists. About half of them responded. The responses were varied, but most of the authors seemed to think symbolism is overanalyzed. Their comments were awesome:

The survey included the following questions:

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Frankenstein from “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley.

Why was this the cover? If this is how the monster looked, everything would have been just fine. Give him pants and he’d be the Marlboro Man.

I’m talking about Victor Frankenstein, the doctor who made the monster, not the monster himself.

About Victor

  • collects a bunch of dead body parts
  • makes a dude
  • abandons it because he thinks it’s gross

His problem?

  • the monster made of dead parts starts stalking him
  • kind of like that guy I went on one date with who asked me to marry him
  • actually, nothing like that.

Behold, cutie Victor Frankenweenie.

Sexxi Points

  • educated
  • motivated
  • likes to travel
  • but most of that is fleeing/collecting corpses

Boner-Killers

  • he’s been in jail
  • for murder
  • I mean, he didn’t COMMIT the murder
  • but that’s going to affect his chances at teaching in a university
  • he’s not a good listener
  • the monster he made just wants to get laid
  • and he’s really mean
  • oh, he kinda married his sister
  • they didn’t have sex because then she was murdered
  • but still, married his sister.
  • people around him are constantly being killed by the monster he created
  • and he’s really bad at protecting his loved ones
  • he just keeps having mental breakdowns
  • that part is really annoying.

The Verdict?

Now you know the difference between Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster. Oh yeah, Rating: NO. DO NOT BANG.

He’s been touching lots of dead bodies. You don’t want embalming fluid in your snatch. I mean, I don’t know exactly what that would do, but it can’t be good.

The Savage from “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley

For everyone here who got here because they’re in Honors English, BNW is basically “Wall-E” but for adults.

Huxley predicted the Wall-E-ification of humanity while dystopian writers like Orwell thought we’d all live in a military state. Huxley was like no way, that shit takes too much effort. Just feed them. A lot. Huxley saw how to control others by keeping them fat and happy (I say this in front of my computer while writing my pointless blog and watching King of the Hill reruns and eating bread saturated with butter and garlic).

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a student looking for answers to your homework or some bullshit like that. I’m going to tell you why you shouldn’t have sex with this fictional character. In the long run, I’m providing much more useful literary analysis.

About The Savage

  • he’s really dramatic
  • like, who falls to his knees in a crowded room
  • and yells
  • “MY FATHER!!!”
  • he’s the bastard son of a drug addict
  • and was living on an Indian reservation-type place
  • where he read lots of Shakespeare?

His problem?

  • he’s taken from the reservation
  • and introduced to normal fucked up society
  • where everyone takes drugs and fornicates and no one has babies
  • so like, NYU on an average Thursday
  • Brave New World is NYU on an average Thursday
  • or Monday
  • Brave New World is NYU any day of the week
  • and he really hates it
  • because it’s debauched.
  • Kinda like NYU.

How about the right to take me to dinner on a Friday? What about that? Why did you jump straight to syphilis?

Sexxi Points

  • he knows lots of pretty poems
  • seems really romantic
  • likes thick women
  • I like men who like thick women
  • In case that wasn’t clear.
  • He seems caring and stuff.

Boner-Killers

  • slut-shames this chick for coming on to him
  • like, calls her a harlot or a strumpet
  • or something equally stupid
  • and she just wanted the D
  • I mean, do they not have any horny chicks on the reservation?
  • he whips himself
  • he participates in an orgy and then kills himself
  • he’s just a drama Queen all around.

The Verdict?

There’s a balance between porno kisses and killing yourself for having sex once. I mean, none of these literary characters seem capable of going to a movie and then going for a walk. Tone it tone, Savage boy. I’m sure you’re pretty hot but you’re killing it. Rating: BONER-KILLER.

Tobias from “Animorphs” by KA Applegate.

Wow, this is pretty much exactly as I imagined him.

Who remembers the Animorphs series? Teenagers turn into animals, fight brain-sucking aliens, save the world, lose their souls in the process. In addition to featuring lots of animal sounds, unlikely escapes, and the assistance of a godlike-entity named the Ellimist, the Animorphs also features a tortured soul, whom I love.

Special thanks to the Moonlight Library for the inspiration for this post.

About Tobias

  • he’s sort of homeless
  • and bounces around between his aunt and uncle
  • who don’t care about him
  • he thinks his mom is crazy
  • but she’s not
  • she was just like, kidnapped by aliens
  • and then married/had sex with one
  • and then the Ellimist took her hot alien man away
  • so she’s a little sore about that.
  • but anyway back to Tobias
  • he’s half-Andalite.
  • Andalites are sexy centaurs
  • who eat through their feet

His problem?

  • He’s trapped in a hawk’s body
  • He has to save the world from invading aliens

Sexxi Points

  • half centaur sexy alien
  • natural warrior or something
  • saving the world
  • has mind-speaking powers
  • and the Ellimist gives him back his morphing powers
  • and the ability to temporarily change from hawk to his human form
  • but only for two hours

Boner-Killers

  • the two hour rule means he can only bone for two hours
  • I mean, I guess he can go into the bathroom
  • morph into a bird
  • then back into a human
  • and go again
  • he’s got a lot of deeply-rooted childhood neglect issues
  • and self-worth/identity issues
  • and I do too, so that wouldn’t work
  • I need someone with the opposite problem so we can balance out
  • like an overinflated ego! Yes. Perfect.
  • anyway
  • he eats roadkill
  • and mice
  • and stuff hawks eat because he’s a hawk
  • and he has a life expectancy of not very long
  • since he’s a damn bird.

The Verdict?

I guess two hours isn’t that bad, but he’s going to have to morph/remorph for proper cuddles. Rating: BIEN SEXXI.

Did you crush on anyone from the series? Is there an alien you’d bang? What about the Hork-Bajir?

Frankenstein’s MONSTER from “Frankenstein’s Bitch” by K.J. Burkhardt.

Thank God this book costs less than a dollar.

I know I’m fighting a losing battle, but people:

FRANKENSTEIN WAS THE NAME OF THE DOCTOR WHO MADE THE MONSTER.

THE MONSTER IS CALLED ‘FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER.’

Oh and on the cover, they actually spelled ‘Frankenstein’ incorrectly. Der.

Obviously, I didn’t spend 99 cents on ‘Frankenstein’s Bitch‘ expecting a new literary classic, and I was right. This author is in dire need of an editor. But anyway, here we go.

About Frankenstein’s Monster

  • 7-inch flaccid penis
  • unknown full size
  • seems confused during sex?
  • composed of dead body parts

His problem?

  • Needs to get laid?

Sexxi Points

  • He just kind of is asleep
  • and then has sex with you
  • he doesn’t talk
  • that’s the best part
  • he’s like a real-life vibrator

Boner-Killers

  • he’s dead
  • doesn’t take you to dinner
  • the female he’s screwing keeps noticing how “sad” he is
  • I dunno, wouldn’t that be a turn off?
  • If the hot dead dude you’re boning is constantly
  • showing his emotional pain?
  • This wasn’t much of a fantasy for me.

The Verdict?

Uhhh don’t fuck dead dudes, guys. Rating: BONER-KILLER.

 

Deuce Garland from “Unmentionables” by Laurie Loewenstein.

Don’t worry. It’s not really about underwear.

“Unmentionables” is a book about a forward-thinking feminist named Marian trapped in a more conservative town. Like, back in the day. Like, back during WWI or something.

Anyway, this guy named Deuce helps her out and defends her. Let’s see how he measures up to 2014 standards.

About Deuce

  • runs a newspaper for his father-in-law
  • is kinda pussy-whipped by him
  • his wife is dead
  • his daughter wants to move to Chicago
  • he wants to do other stuff, too
  • but again, pussy-whipped by the father-in-law

His problem?

  • he has to take care of this heathen woman from up East, then he falls in love with her.

Women like Marian aren’t just make-believe. Go Wendy go!

Sexxi Points

  • forward-thinking
  • like, he thinks women should be able to do things
  • like have jobs
  • and travel
  • he’s part black
  • which I like because I’m mixed
  • but in that time period, it makes him like
  • a pariah
  • but 2014 is all about mixed-race babies
  • so chic!
  • anyway
  • he also is against children dying from contaminated milk
  • hey, in 1917, you gotta take a stand against stuff like that
  • stands up for a black kid who was killed by racist assholes
  • and testifies against the racist assholes
  • is willing to have premarital sex
  • that counts twice considering the time period.

Boner-Killers

  • kind of a pushover
  • like, first he does what the father-in-law says
  • then he just does what Marian says
  • then he just does what his daughter says
  • HAVE YOUR OWN OPINIONS SOMETIMES
  • FOR A GUY WHO RUNS A NEWSPAPER YOU REALLY HAVE NO SPINE

The Verdict?

His work defending women and minorities in a backwards-ass town wins him lots and lots of points.

BTW, even in 2014, women need defending. GO WENDY GO!

Anyway, I think you know my verdict already. A mixed-race gentleman who owns a newspaper? WIN. Rating: BIEN SEXXI.

Michael from “The Black Chapel” by Marilyn Cruise

She’s a stripper faced with an impossible decision. Actually no, it’s not an impossible decision at all. TAKE THE MONEYS.

This is about a girl named Scarlett who thinks too much. No really, she has two personalities, and a billionaire falls in love with both of them. But she wants him to marry the “real” her and not the “stripper” her. Like that matters when billions of dollars are floating around?

About Michael

  • Youngish, hopefully, since the stripper in the story is about 25.
  • And I don’t want him to be an old creeper.
  • A billionaire who can’t touch his money
  • unless he gets married
  • before his mom dies
  • but the mom doesn’t want to just marry someone for the money
  • she’s kinda setting him up for failure in that regard
  • and he’s hot
  • but he frequents strip clubs.
  • and churches
  • both places I don’t like.

His problem?

  • Needs to put a ring on it
  • to inherit his money
  • that’s the only problem he thinks he has, but
  • the two women he likes are the same woman
  • that’s really her fault more than his, though.

Do you think this is how their dance performances went? I mean, the author didn’t specify, but that’s how I imagined it.

Sexxi Points

  • He has a lot of money
  • he’s attractive
  • with a cleft chin
  • okay I made that part up
  • he wants to get married
  • sort of?

Boner-Killers

  • he will cheat on you with the stripper version of you
  • and then get mad at you
  • he goes to strip clubs
  • and pays for private masked sessions in something called “The Sanctuary.”
  • so yeah, that’s sketchy as hell.

The Verdict?

I don’t understand why this Scarlett girl was so conflicted. She should have listened to her best friend, who was like uhhh take the money and run, duh. Rating: bien sexxi.

But Scarlett, break up with him before he cheats on you with yourself again. Or maybe just stop trying to get him to cheat on you with your own alter-egos. That’s a little weird.

Pedro from “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel

This would be really romantic if you weren’t married to her sister.

This book had a lot of blah blah about food that I just skipped. I know the recipes had some kind of hidden meaning in the text, but I use Seamless and unsuspecting dates to get food, not my own hands. I mean, I did melt some cheese in a pan today. Does that count?

There was only like, one dude in this whole village. It was so bad that one girl ran away with a soldier and another went to a mental asylum to meet a new man. It was that bad. Aren’t you glad we have dating apps, so that jerks are just a click away?

Here’s Pedro.

About Pedro

  • in love with Tita
  • Mexican
  • that’s about it in terms of details.

His problem?

  • he can’t marry Tita
  • because she’s supposed to never marry and take care of her mom
  • so he marries Tita’s sister to stay close to her
  • creepy?
  • and the sister has all kinds of problems, like bad breath
  • saggy vagina
  • big belly
  • no breast milk
  • vomited her own wedding cake
  • the author just made the sister as unappealing as possible.

If you give a fuck, you can follow the recipes in the book and make stuff. I did not care this much.

Sexxi Points

  • Stuck around? Points for that, maybe?
  • Stuck around for twelve years.
  • Around but not active
  • He never really stood up to Tita’s mom or anything
  • And he married Tita’s sister
  • and cheated on her with Tita
  • and got her pregnant
  • Why can’t anyone just enjoy sex in any of these books?
  • Gross.

Boner-Killers

  • Cheated on his wife with her sister
  • I don’t think he went to college or anything
  • Actually he doesn’t really seem to do anything?
  • What does this cat do?
  • Other than whine and have sex with people’s sisters?

The Verdict?

I’m not down with this dude. His best qualities seem to be staying around and waiting for convenient times to have sex. He’s like mold, if mold had sex. Oh and when he finally can be with Tita, he dies during sex, and then Tita basically kills herself by eating candles. It’s a lot more romantic in the book, but that’s what it amounts to.

Tita, you should have married the dude you met in the mental asylum.

Pedro, go to school, locate your balls, go back in time and make Tita your wife the first time around. All your romantic whining took twelve years and then you died with your pants around your ankles. Not a good look. BONER-KILLER.