Vladimir Nabokov Signs and Symbols | Vladimir Nabokov | SymbolsFor the fourth time in as many years, they were confronted with the problem of what birthday present to take to a young man who was incurably deranged in his mind. Desires he had none. Man-made objects were to him either hives of evil, vibrant with a malignant activity that he alone could perceive, or gross comforts for which no use could be found in his abstract world. After eliminating a number of articles that might offend him or frighten him anything in the gadget line, for instance, was taboo , his parents chose a dainty and innocent trifle—a basket with ten different fruit jellies in ten little jars. At the time of his birth, they had already been married for a long time; a score of years had elapsed, and now they were quite old. Her drab gray hair was pinned up carelessly.
Symbols and Signs
The plot of this story is quite simple at first sight, elderly parents want to visit his mentally ill son. However, other levels could be recognized. For example a mention of Russian Jewish emigrants, an insight into perception of a mentally ill person, life in a long marriage and also an atmosphere which signify the direction of the story. The motif of Russian Jewish emigration appears in main characters and their relatives destiny. Their old life is hidden in their memories and sometimes surfaced again, for example in old photographs, in the situation with two women in the underground.
For the fourth time in as many years, they were confronted with the problem of what birthday present to take to a young man who was incurably deranged in his mind.
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In this world of technology it is not very rare that something mechanical breaks down. First of all a subway is not the happiest place but Nabob knows that readers will see this as a sign worthy of analyzing. Nabob places events that may be falsely thought of as precedents for future events. Nabob use symbols to create the suspense of death which ruminates in the readers throughout the reading.. For example, the day that the family was supposed to meet their son, it began raining. In most movies and literature, critics have seen the rain as a symbol of both death and renewal.
Nabokov returned the title to his original "Signs and Symbols" when republishing the story. An elderly couple tries to visit their deranged son in a sanatorium on his birthday. They are informed that he attempted to take his life and they cannot see him now. After their return home, the husband announces his decision to take him out of the sanatorium. The story concludes with mysterious telephone calls. The first two apparently misdialed calls are from a girl asking for "Charlie"; the story ends when the phone rings for the third time.