Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Scholarly tip: Dreams are almost always important in novels. Anytime a character has one – and the author takes the time to write it down – you should sit up and take note. According to Freud , a dream is thought to express a person’s subconscious wishes, desires, or fears. When thinking about what a character’s dream means, we might try thinking about the dream as an expression of the character’s unconscious.
As the novel draws to a close, our heroine Kit Tyler has a dream:
One night she woke from a vivid dream. She and Nat had stood side by side at the bow of the Dolphin, watching that familiar curving prow carving gently through calm turquoise water. They came soundlessly into a palm-studded harbor, fragrant with the scent of blossoms, and happiness was like sunshine, wrapping her round and pouring into her heart till it overflowed.
She woke in the freezing darkness. I want to go back, she admitted at last, weeping. I want to go home, where green things are growing, and I will never see snow again as long as I live! (20.60-61)
Kit initially interprets this dream as meaning that she should return to her home in Barbados. Eventually, though, she realizes that it doesn’t matter where she is in the dream – but who she is with. What dreams, fears, or desires is the dream expressing? Why can’t Kit realize these feelings in her waking life?