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The Lanterns

Symbol Analysis

These only show up in the first half, but for a lot of people they are the most unforgettable part of the poem. They are the key part of the cool spy plan Paul and his friend come up with. Like Paul himself, they make good symbols of American determination and spirit.

  • Line 8: This is the first we hear about the lanterns, as Paul lays out the secret plan to his friend. The lanterns are not only symbols of the new American struggle, they also light up the darkness, which is everywhere in this poem. Similarly, Paul and his friends are pushing back the darkness of British domination.
  • Line 69: Now we finally see the lanterns, first one and then two of them. Longfellow has kept us (and Paul) waiting, and now the poem can really take off. The image of those shining lights ties in with the fire images in line 80. The lanterns are the first flash of the war.

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