Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz


Jack-o-lantern. Halloween, right? Stars and Stripes? U.S.A. See! You can already pick out symbols—and what they stand for. But if you’re still feeling nervous, we're here to help.

Symbols can seem intimidating—the stuff of authors and English teachers who clearly enjoy torturing you. But a symbol really isn’t a big deal. It’s nothing more than something that stands for something else.

Like your first bike, or your first car. You could say that a bike or a car is a symbol of independence. Or the playlist your crush made for you. A symbol of his or her affection?

You hope!

In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne wields the letter "A" a symbol of sin and redemption.

In The Scarlet Letter, the symbolic scarlet letter "A" begs the question, What's the greater sin? Sin itself...or hypocrisy?

OK, so it’s easier to figure out a symbol from your own life, because you’re inside your own head. You’re not inside an author’s. The good news is that authors really want you to be able to spot—and understand—their symbols. Like they do with their themes, authors tend to make their symbols pretty obvious.

For example, consider The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, in which the red letter A on main character Hester’s dress is symbolic. How can you tell? Because Hawthorne invokes it over and over again!

Or think about Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, in which the characters dream relentlessly of a farm to call their own. You guessed it—the farm is symbolic.

Yes, symbols rarely hide. But if you find those symbols hiding from you, here's a tip: As yourself what the book is about, and what the author is trying to say. Answer those questions, and watch those elusive symbols jump out at you.

Next: Themes in Literature

How to Write an A+ Essay: Thesis Statements

Rule to remember:
Don't write your thesis statement until you have the facts to back it up.

Another rule to remember:
Let those facts write your thesis statement for you.

It's easier than you think. In How to Write an A+ Paper: A Step by Step Guide to Acing Your Next Assignment, I'll show you how I build thesis statements from the ground up.

Read the introduction here, or grab your copy from Amazon.

Literary Analysis 101: Dictionary of Terms Metaphor in Literature

Find the complete eight video guide to literary terms here.

Motifs in Literature: Literary Analysis 101. 60second Recap

Literary Analysis 101: Dictionary of Terms Motifs in Literature

Also at Recap Resource:

Essay Writing Guide:

Get Psyched
Get a Thesis Statement
Get Organized
Get Smart
So What?
Get an Ending
Make it Sing!
Thesis Statements: Four Steps

Make-Your-Own-Recap Tutorial:

Pick your topic
Focus your presentation
Write your script
Edit yourself
Choose your props
Create your graphics
What to do once you're done


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