Used to Live Here Once: Theme and Literary Elements

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Used to Live Here Once: Theme and Literary Elements Instructor; Betty Nazarian ENG 125- Introduction to Literature May 18, 2014 Used to Live Here Once: Theme and Literary Elements To discover the theme of any story one must look much deeper than just the plot of the story itself. The theme is the message in which the author is trying to convey through the story’s characters, plot, symbolism, and other literary elements used throughout the story. In “Used to Live Here Once” the short story by Jean Rhys written in 1976 the overall theme is that of a journey to discovery. It is a journey through memories to the realization that one has arrived into the afterlife. Through symbolism and tone, Rhys allows the theme of “Used to Live Here Once” to solidify, and allows the reader to fully understand the meaning behind it. The theme of this story being a journey to discovery starts being apparent at the very beginning. “She” starts this journey at the river in which she finds stepping stones to help her to cross. As she walks happily along the road she begins to notice the changes from the last time that she was there. She notices that the road seems wider and more worn. She continues on until she comes to the house that is also different, and has a car sitting in front of it. It was not until she noticed the children and tries to speak to them that she realizes that they cannot see her, nor can they hear her. It was then that “She” discovered that she had crossed over to the afterlife. The use of symbolism throughout this story helps the reader to notice that things may not be what they first seem. “Communicating beyond the limits of language, objects and what they symbolize help reveal character, establish setting, create conflict, set tone and signify emotion. They accomplish all of this by making the abstract concrete, by allowing the writer to show rather

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