The Use of Symbolism and Irony in What You Pawn, I Will Redeem and Yellow Wallpaper

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

“What You Pawn, I Redeem” by Sherman Alexie and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkin Gilman both use many literary works. Symbolism, conflict, and irony are some they used to tell their message and keep the readers on their toes. In “What You Pawn, I Redeem” Jackson uses symbolism by placing a symbolic meaning on his grandmother’s regalia. Jackson, stated “I know it’s crazy, but I wondered whether I could bring my grandmother back to life if I bought back her regalia.” (14) meaning the regalia stood for his grandmothers’ life. Man vs. Man conflict was represented when Jackson Jackson picked a fight with the bartender. The bartender stated, ‘It’s closing time. I don’t care where you go, but you’re not staying here.” (21) Jackson ended the conversation and replied, “Come on I know how to fight.” (21) therefore, causing the conflict. Verbal, dramatic, and situational irony are also used.

Verbal irony is used when Jackson said,” I’m flattered, Honey Boy, but I don’t play on your team.” (19). This is verbal irony, because Jackson isn’t talking about playing on actual teams. He is simply telling Honey Boy he is not bisexual. Dramatic irony is used when Officer Williams gives Jackson a candy bar. Jackson states,” He’d given me hundreds of candy bars over the years. I wonder if he knew I was a diabetic.” (21). This is dramatic irony, because Officer Williams believes he is help Jackson, but doesn’t know he is a diabetic. Last, situational irony is used when Jackson goes back to the pawn story after his twenty-four hours are up. The pawnbroker asks how much he has and Jackson states,” Five dollars.” (28) then to the readers surprise the pawnbroker says,” Take it.” (28). This is situational irony, because since Jackson didn’t have all the money to get the regalia back the reader expected Jackson to get turned away, but the results were the opposite since Jackson got to take his grandmother regalia. Gilman also uses some of the same methods to convey her message.

In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper” symbolism is used when Jane and John stay in a house while theirs is getting remodeled. Jane states,” The color is repellant, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight. It is dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly Sulphur tint in others.” (174). This is symbolism, because the wallpaper has a symbolic meaning that represents Jane because she is sick. There is a lot of Man vs. Self conflict. One example, Jane states,” If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency – what is one to do?” (172). This is Man vs. Self conflict, because she is fighting herself letting everyone say nothing is wrong with her when she obviously feels something is. One other Man vs. Self conflict Jane states,” I always fancy I see people walking in these numerous paths and arbors, but John has cautioned me not to give way to fancy in the least.” (175). This is another example of man vs. Self, because even though Jane enjoys all these desires, she must fight herself not to give in. Gilman also uses some irony as well.

Dramatic irony is used when Jane says, ”I am glad my case is not serious.” (174). This is dramatic, because Jane states her case is not serious but the read knows it’s worse than Jane perceives it to be. Finally, situational irony is used. John says to Jane,” You know the place is doing you good.” (174), but in the end Jane states,” Now why would that man have fainted?” (187). This is situational irony, because John had the readers believing Jane was getting better and, in the end, she would be healed but to our surprise Jane did the worse and lost her sanity. Many literary terms could be used to convey a message in a story. However, in “What You Pawn, I Redeem” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” the theme was told through symbolism, conflict, and irony. The literary works the authors used were effective and keep the readers on their toes.


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