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Birds

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The novel offers us many metaphors for thinking about Kit’s identity. While Hannah tells us the story of the little flower that could, Nat compares Kit to a tropical bird he once wanted to bring home from Barbados. He tells the story as follows:

“You know,” he said looking carefully away at the river, “once when I was a kid we went ashore at Jamaica, and in the marketplace there was a man with some birds for sale. They were sort of yellow-green with bright scarlet patches. I was bent on taking one home to my grandmother in Saybrook. But father explained it wasn’t meant to live up here, that the birds here would scold and peck at it. Funny thing, that morning when we left you here in Wethersfield – all the way back to the ship all I could think of was that bird.” (12.29)

In Nat’s eyes, Kit is a poor little bullied bird. Unlike Hannah, Nat admits that he had doubts about Kit’s chances of survival in New England. Is Nat right about Kit in this metaphor? What other kinds of birds does he compare her to later in the story?

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