Literary Liaisons

A blog about writing and all things story…

Theme and Images as Storytelling Devices

Rose pedals in sand suggest Romance!

Do you have images, objects, ideas or even colors or specific language that tie into your theme and evoke a reader’s emotional connection to your story? Do you use images as storytelling devices?

Robert Ray, (author of the Weekend Novelist and other books) taught me everything about the importance of objects and my characters relationship with those objects. It changed my story completely, adding deeper layers drunk with meaning. One such object became so important that I changed the title of the book to the name of said object. The name of said object contained the theme for my main protagonist. I challenge you to look at your theme and the objects or images connected to it. Here’s a great example;

In one of my all time favorite books, Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, the bird itself is a great image representing the theme. It comes to symbolizes innocence; hence, to kill one is to destroy innocence. This ties in brilliantly with the story’s themes and plot; guilt vs. innocence being one.

The fact that Scout and Jem’s last name is Finch (another small bird) indicates that they’re particularly vulnerable in the bigoted town of Maycomb, Alabama where the fragile innocence of childhood is often disrespected and dealt with unkindly. 

In the courtroom drama where the theme takes center stage, and after Tom is shot, Mr. Underwood compares his murder to “the senseless slaughter of songbirds.”

At the end of the story Scout states that harming Boo Radley would be like “shootin’ a mockingbird.”

The most moving and significant use of this image/theme is when Miss Maudie tells Scout: “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Bingo! Title, theme, message, and metaphor all in one nice package with a bow on top: who could forget that moment when the theme of the story is linked poetically to a tiny bird?

One comment on “Theme and Images as Storytelling Devices

  1. Stephen Hayes
    July 25, 2012

    I remember feeling much the same way about another great novel: The Thorn Birds.

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on July 25, 2012 by in images, story telling devices, theme, to kill a mockingbird.
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