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Allegorically Gardening

It is surprising to me the number of times allegory is directly mentioned in Amy Waldman’s The Submission. Typically, in other novels the reader has to find the allegorical meaning hidden within the text. For example, when one reads The Reluctant Fundamentalist one can eventually see that the name Erica has an allegorical significance as a representation of America. While this allegory is noticeable within the text the author makes no attempt to highlight it to the readers, or to stress its inherent meaning. Rather the reader is expected to come up with his or her own explanation for what the name Erica means. This gives the reader a great deal of freedom in developing his or her own individual interpretation; but,  it also gives the reader a lot of room to “put words in the author’s mouth” and give the author credit for ideas they may or may not have meant to imply. Waldman takes a different approach that allows her to use allegory, but in a way where she can convey her message more clearly to her readers—she openly mentioned allegory through the remarks Claire makes.  Waldman’s blatant use of allegory makes her point clearer and more direct to the reader, allowing for no potential misinterpretations.

The following are two examples of how allegory is explicitly mentioned, and how the direct reference makes the meaning of allegory clearer.

“She wanted him to have died believing that he would live. The Garden was an allegory. Like Cal, it insisted that change was not just possible, but certain,” (11).

Here, the garden has an allegorical meaning that implies growth and change. In her relationship with Cal, he was the optimistic one; the one who thought the glass was half-full, and the one that thought change was bound to happen. But when he died Claire lost all her optimism, and was reluctant to see any change at all.  For her the garden represented a place to heal as well as a place to see change happening. A garden is never the same for any long period of time, it is always changing.

  “I’d like to talk about the design a little. To me the wall framing the garden, the wall with the names, is an allegory for the way grief frames the aftermath of this tragedy. Life goes on, the spirit rejuvenates—this is what the garden represents. But whereas the garden grows, and evolves and changes with the seasons, the wall around it changes not at all. It is as eternal, as unalterable, as our mourning—” (216-217).

Here, the wall itself is an allegory for grief. It symbolizes the walls individuals put up in their minds, to mentally block them from thinking about an unpleasant topic, or having to deal with the grief of loss. It is trying to illustrate that while the garden represents our lives changing and becoming rejuvenated, the wall represents that our emotions are still entrapped in grief and mourning. This speaks to the attitude of our country today. Even though our country is like the garden in the sense that it has grown, changed, and rejuvenated its spirit since 9/11, we are still walled in by our emotions. While as a whole our country seems to have moved on and returned to daily life, we still continue to mourn the loss of life that day and the names of those that we lost will forever be written in stone.


One Response to “Allegorically Gardening”

  1. stewart15 says:

    Thanks for posting about this! I completely missed that while reading. After reading your post I felt a little stupid for not noticing that, hah.