In your answer you must refer closely to the test and to at least two of the: climax, theme, characterisation, plot or any other appropriate feature. A short story which symbolism is the key to the reader’s appreciation of the text is ‘Superman and Paula Brown’s New Snowsuit’ by Slyvia Plath. The story starts with the adult narrator telling the reader of her childhood innocence, and then she takes an adult realisation when she is wrongly accused of a crime and all her dreams fall apart; we understand this due to the symbolic references of Superman, flying and the blue clothes that the hero, Superman, and the villain, Paula Brown, wear.
Our appreciation of the text is greatened by the lack of imagination the narrator has towards the end of the short story, as Superman doesn’t ‘come roaring down’ to save her in her dreams. This also increases our sympathy for the unnamed narrator as her dreams have been washed away like the ‘crude drawings of a child’, which is significant as she is in fact only a child. The way Superman is symbolised is essential to the understanding of the short story, as at the beginning he looked ‘remarkably like [her] Uncle Frank’ Superman is the hero of the child narrator’s dreams and is some inspiration to her.
She always plays games about him and thinks her uncle looks like him; she even creates her own little world with her friends about him and his adventures, so Superman is a figure that this little girl idolises. The unnamed narrator claims the nighttime ‘was the best time of the day’ as she can dream of Superman and all night, symbolising hope and imagination for her to reach certain “unattainable” dreams like flying with a fictional character.
This furthers our understanding of the short story because we can empathise with the unnamed narrator; the vivid creativity of the little girl evokes our sympathy, as the reader knows this will not last forever. Another important symbol, which is key to understanding the text, is the way the narrator dreams of flying, this increase our appreciation of the story because we empathise with her as she has dreams of something which can only be dreams. The symbolic nature of flying is that of possibility and imagination that the little girl possesses and we admire her for her creativity and ideas.
At the beginning the narrator sees she is flying and can actually believe that she is flying this suggests that she believes in flying so much that it is a very important aspect of her life. After the incident with the war film at the cinema she can no longer dream of flying, this is very symbolic and vital to understanding the story as it suggests that she has started making adult realisations about the world, the possibility of flying has been removed as if they were ‘crude drawings of a child in coloured chalk’ this emphasises our sympathy for the narrator and therefore increases our appreciation of the story.