The Drummer Boy of Shiloh

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Ray Bradbury’s Use of Imagery as Depicted in His Book, The Drummer Boy of Shiloh

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

When reading or writing a story, you may wonder why the authors use symbolism. Well, symbols can show complex ideas with few words. Each symbol can have many different meanings; it depends on the person’s point of view. A novel or short story with good symbolism can be read and understood in two ways. The first way is the literal one, the story taken at a stated view. The second way includes recognition and understanding of the symbolism used.

In Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” symbolism plays a huge role. One example of symbolism is the pile of sticks and leaves the general made. This pile might not seem like much, but it could symbolize his army and the war. The fact that the general is building this could symbolize him building his army. The leaves and sticks could symbolize the soldiers lives, some will last longer than others when war breaks out. Like how sticks last longer than leaves in a fire.

Another example of symbolism in “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” is when the main character, Joby, started counting the men sleeping on the ground. (In lines 14-19) When Joby is unable to continue counting, this could symbolize how many people died in the actual Battle of Shiloh.

Ray Bradbury also used something called repeated symbolism throughout the story. Repeated symbolism is when one symbol appears more than once. Like the peach blossoms, they show up many times in the story and each time they do, something changes. In the beginning when Joby is sleeping a peach blossom falls and wakes him. While Joby is sitting another blossom falls and he starts to regret his decisions of running away and joining the army. While Joby is crying another blossom falls and he attracts the attention of the general. When the general came over he helps Joby cope with the thought of war and gives him the courage to go to battle the next day. Lastly, another blossom falls as Joby drifted to sleep.

Symbolism is a vital tool that allows the author to show meaning and imagery. When it’s done well, it adds power to the story and the impact is greater. With symbolism, the writer has a chance to view the story on a deeper perspective. It also allows the reader to form their own opinion about the symbols, making the work more universal.

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