Importance of Symbolism in Timothy Findley's "War".
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Young people often do not know what to expect of the future. They do not know how to act when something unexpected comes along, and their actions are based on what they do know; usually limited, biased information. This idea is central to the short story, ʺWar,ʺ by Timothy Findley. The young boy, Neil Cable, narrates the day he found out his father had joined the army. He speaks of his actions, feelings, and confusion surrounding that day. At first glance, his actions are all too often misinterpreted as violence and hatred, but after careful consideration, one can see that they are merely his way of dealing with the troubling news. He has not experienced enough in his lifetime to have a true understanding of war, and acts upon what…show more content… Neil has never heard an uplifting story about war, so in his mind anyone who joins the army is giving up their life. This idea is confirmed by the birch bark box that Neil gives to both his parents. This box could symbolize a coffin, showing that Neil truly is afraid of losing his father. He wants to make sure that he gets the box before leaving for the army, so that he has it with him when he dies. The box is mentioned at the end of the story, when Neil says that the family picture taken before his father left still remins in the box, suggesting that Neil’s fears become a reality. These two symbols show Neil’s lack of knowledge about war, and explain why he acts the way he does; he thinks that his father signing up for the army means that he will never see him again.
Neil’s fear of ducks and the dark suggest that he is afraid of the future; he knows that anything could happen once his father leaves for war. His fear of the future is the reason he runs away and hides in the barn. He thinks that if he can keep things the way they are that the future would remain the way he imagined it would be. Neil says multiple times in the story that he is afraid of ducks. Ducks are migratory birds; they are constantly leaving and returning. Although they travel in bunches, it is common for not all of the ducks to return every year. This pattern is very