The Day They Burned the Books is a captivating story that uses symbolism and imagery to complement the themes of racism, self-acceptance, and the unkindness of love. Jean Rhys short story is set in the Dominican Republic in the 1900’s just before world war one. At this time, the socioeconomic times in the Dominican Republic were not favourable and very hard on the people who lived there. The narrator tells the story though first person meaning that this person is a participant in this story and is telling it through her eyes but is young and naive. Even though the story is told through a young person’s eyes you still get the major symbols like the books, the burning of the books, the library where the books are read and the racism and
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The reason to which Mrs. Sawyer burns the books in the first place is because they symbolize her husband in that the books were all European and that there was nothing about the Dominican Republic culture or way of life even though we was married to and had a child with a woman from the Dominican. In burning those books, she turned her son against her because that was his way of being somewhat close to his father and she destroyed that “Now Ive got to hate you too. Now I hate you too” (2595). Therefore, he started to become just like his father in hating his mother too.
The first image in the short story was that of Eddie and his best friend who is actually the narrator. Even though they are of different race, they do not care and remain best friends. The narrator shares the same amount of interest in the books as Eddie and is in the library everyday reading and learning about European ways to help Eddie get closer to his father “’My room,’ Eddie called it. ‘My books” (2595). When Mrs. Sawyer is looking through the books deciding what to burn and what to sell, they each grab a book to save and run “He snatched the book out of her hand and gave her a violent push” (2595) “I grabbed a book from the condemned pile and dived” (2595). They, oddly enough, have a love hate relationship as well “I loved, but sometimes despised him” (2592). If Eddie wanted to do something that she didn’t agree with she would tell him and vise versa.
Another Image, that is positive,