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Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
There seem to be an unreasonable number of dead animals in Big Sur. But don't take our word for it:
- "Your mother wrote and said your cat is dead." (11.1)
- "Look out there floating in the sea weeds, a dead otter!" (21.6)
- We both look at the fishbowl and both the goldfishes are upsidedown floating dead on the surface of the water. (31.2)
- I suddenly look at the fish and feel horrible all over again, that old death scheme is back. […] That fish has all the death of otters and mouses and snakes right in it or something. (35.3, 36.5)
Jack is tormented by the inevitability, by the randomness, and especially by the lack of good reason behind death. "Why did he die?" Jack wonders of his dead otter. "Why do they do that? What's the sense of all this?" (21.6) Later he writes, "Those poor little hunks of golden death floating on that scummy water – it reminds me of the otter […]. Why would they do that? Why? What kind of logic is that for fish to have?" (32.1) This issue of mortality is ever-present in Big Sur – for Jack and for the reader.