A Pirate's Resources

Exercise 7 :: Symbols :: What's that supposed to mean?

The exercise on symbols should be a fun and hopefully easy one for your child. Symbols are everywhere - they can be words, physical objects, a visual sign. Looking at the world for symbols can be interesting, because we take so many things for granted that are actually very powerful symbols. A stop sign, for example, isn’t something we think about - we simply stop when we see one. But without its power, there would be car accidents all over the place.

In Real Life :: We talked earlier about significance, and the role it plays in story. Many significant objects in a story are actually symbols of something else (often values, or other characters, or memories). I have a friend who has 5 children. When they were younger, she developed the symbol of 2 fingers in the air. They knew, when they saw that, that it was time to go, and they should clean up and get ready. It was subtle, and effective, without drawing a whole lot of attention to them. Carol Burnett, on her TV show years ago, used to tug her ear at the end of the show - a little symbol to her Nanny that she loved her. What symbols occur in your every day world? Help your student to see them, or create them. Sometimes, they need help understanding that, when you bring them a cup of water before they even ask for it, it’s because you love them. It’s a symbol. A red star on their homework means they did a good job. Dad’s thumbs up when they cleared the dishes without being asked mean “I’m proud of you.” Look for them, or create some, decide what they mean, and use them to share something special together.

Finding it in the Story :: clearly, the flags are symbolic of places, as well as intent (the jolly roger shows the intention of the pirates to pirate-y behavior). The white flag symbolizes surrender. Other very subtle symbols that will show up in coming chapters include the jelly beans (which symbolize the Captain’s desire to have good breath and be accepted by others), the bananas (which symbolize our desire to have something we want, even when it’s bad for us), and even the kraken (which symbolizes those things in life that we have to battle and win over, or have a good captain who will battle and win for us).