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To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse


by Virginia Woolf

The Hen in Mr. Bankes's Memory

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Remember? In their youth, Mr. Bankes and Mr. Ramsay are walking down the road when a hen comes flying up to protect her chicks, and Mr. Ramsay goes, "Pretty pretty." According to Mr. Bankes, that’s when their friendship stopped. The two of them were down metaphorically different roads. So what’s with the hen? Why not a tree stump or a horse? Well, a hen protecting her chicks is pretty domestic. Mr. Bankes is trying to say – and he does say it later – that Mr. Ramsay’s turn to the domestic life is what killed their friendship. And that’s expressed symbolically by the hen in the road and Mr. Ramsay saying, "Pretty pretty."

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