Is That a Symbol?


chapter 12

By: Brooke Goodman

English II

November 15, 2013

Ms. Harris

students should know how to find correct symbols

Dictionary Definition...

SYMBOL: a thing that represents or stands for something else.

Something that suggests something else.

According to Thomas Foster...

SYMBOL: "a network of meanings that permits a limitless range of possible interpretations" (Foster 103)

(all depending on the reader)

We bring our indivisual history to our reading.

Which includes:

  • gender
  • race
  • faith
  • social involvement
  • education

Pg. 103: "Every reader's experience of every work is unique; people don't usually come from the same angle"

"Emphasize various elements differently"


Identifying symbols: (3 parts)

  1. questions
  2. your experience
  3. preexisting knowledge

Katniss Everdeen's bow & arrows

Ask yourself...

  • Is it relevant? yes.
  • Significant? yes.
  • What is the author using it for? (its up to you!)

use Your knowledge...

It was given to her by her father; Katniss uses her bow daily.

Generally used for:

  • hunting
  • practicing archery
  • survival
  • protection



Native americans used them for war and hunting.


Bow= freedom, security, violence, etc.

(Depends on reader's point of view)

*Sometimes the author will directly state a symbol and what it represents

symbolic actions

  • Symbols can be events or actions.
  • Different actions can represent different things


Apple picking: represents Autumn, Thanksgiving, cold weather.

Symbols vs Allegories

Symbol: Represents many things; immaterial (Ex: freedom/Peace).

Allegory: "a representation through concrete forms"

can be reduced to standing for ONE thing.


have one mission to accomplish:

"Convey a certain message"

  • Allegories- get to the point
  • Symbols- get to a point.


  • find a symbol: questions, your experience, and pre-existing knowledge
  • Actions can be symbolic
  • Allegories and symbols are not the same


  • students will read the excerpt from Mockingjay
  • students will identify a possible symbol
  • students will use what they learned to approve of the symbol by answering the questions provided


Collins, Suzanne. Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2008. Print

Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2010. print

Foster, Thomas C., How to Read Literature Like a Professor. New York: HarperCollins Publisher Inc., 2003. print.

n.p. The Hunger Games Wiki. Wikia, 2012. web. 2 November 2013