Are there really any though? (Symbols and Signs)


This short story, “Symbols and Signs” by Vladimir Nabokov, was another one of the more dark stories we have read thus far.  Like all of the dark stories, I had trouble grasping the meaning and purpose of this one, and I am sure that when we discuss it in class, the entire story will become much more clear to me.

The plot is simple. A mother and father who had immigrated to the United States discuss dealing with their mentally ill son, who was attempted to take his own life on multiple occasions.

This story really reminded me of “The Japanese Quince” because, instead of having using a simple plot with a clear beginning and end to make a point, it shows a sort of snapshot of somebody’s life to express the point.  Also, in both stories, none of the characters seem to be completely in charge of their emotions or able to completely understand them.  The son especially, has no control over what he feels.

His parents also are out of control too though.

“No doctors, no doctors,” he moaned. “To the devil with doctors! We must get him out of there quick. Otherwise, we’ll be responsible…. Responsible!” He hurled himself into a sitting position, both feet on the floor, thumping his forehead with his clenched fist.

The father feels responsible for his son’s multiple attempted suicides, and seems to blame the hospital that he’s living in.  Although its understandable that he would want to take his son out of that position, the fact that he made the decision very rashly and right after the shocking news that his son had tried to kill himself yet again, its safe to assume that this decision was based more on emotions than logic.

-Paulie (^-^ )


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