Symbolism In A Bird In The House

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Denial is a familiar concept because it is how we shut out the unwanted in our lives. It appears to allow us the freedom to choose what our worlds are made of. However, once we begin to apply it to the shaping influences in our lives, it becomes a danger to our capacity for personal growth. In A Bird in the House, Margaret Laurence explores the necessity of willfully accepting and embracing the legacies of the dead in our lives. Through the use of tone and symbolism, we are able to observe the resultant growth that accompanies this acceptance. The narrator transitions from an impersonal to a personal tone as they come to embrace their grandfather's impact on their identity, which finally enables them to shed its negative aspects. At the beginning …show more content…
In their effort to limit feeling, and a revealing wish to deny their grandfather the right to a legacy in their life, they coldly refuse to visit his grave, insisting “there was no need”(12). Their impersonal tone is a reflection of their stunted ability to exhibit care for their loved ones, much like their grandfather, who they “feared and fought”(20). However, their refusal to accept that his legacy lives within them keeps them from overcoming it. They are only able to express emotion once they begin to accept that their grandfather “proclaimed himself in [their] veins”(20). Their tone changes, and they personalize the dilapidated state of their former house, revealing “it...hurt [them] to see it in other hands”(17). In doing this, they reach a milestone in their capacity to express feeling. When the narrator refers to the house as not “ours”(22), they have finally accepted their grandfather’s influence in their life, and acknowledged the characteristics they inherited from him. Once they do this, they are able to to lessen the negative aspects of his legacy in their life - the parts that like them, disallowed him from expressing love to those …show more content…
The narrator finds themself “parked”(14) — stagnated— beside the Brick House, symbolic of their grandfather. Although they remain fixated on the state of disrepair the house is in, they are unable to do anything about it, insisting it is “not [theirs]”(22). Similarly, their grandfather’s negative traits are established in their identity and continue to manifest, yet they are unable to address them because they continue to deny that he is part of them. In like manner, the caragana hedges, meant to protect from wind, represent the narrator’s emotional defenses. The “unruly” nature of their growth reflects the unchecked emotional shielding the narrator employs, much like their grandfather, who so greatly withdrew from his loved ones that his own grandchild is unable to appreciate him in death. As they passively allow their grandfather’s influence to remain unchecked in their life, its impact is magnified. Their unwillingness to recognize it, which would enable them to address it, only allows the problem to grow. Laurence calls our attention to the problem of denial. We must first accept that our dead shape who we are in order to weed out the negative influences they leave behind to avoid the danger of stagnation.
A Bird in the House is a warning; Laurence shows us the consequences of denying the impact of the dead, with whom we can no longer interact or even

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