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A Dill Pickle
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1. The dangers of the outside world parallels dangers of the inside. That is the theme for this short story called "The Rockpile" by James Baldwin. The rockpile held different symbols for each character. For Roy and John the rockpile symbolized mystery and danger. It also represented freedom. For Elizabeth the rockpile represented danger and evil that she couldn't protect her children from. Some other symbolism in the story were Gabriel (their father) himself because he was feared and powerful. He was the dominate figure of the household. The theme "the dangers of the outside world parelles dangers of the inside," was shown through gabriel because like the rock pile Gabriel was rough, cold jagged and represented danger. The whole story showed how tough it was to grow up during the Great Depression. The boys weren't allowed to play outside because the streets were dangerous, but inside their own home the danger was still present. Within the story he had Sister McCandles stick her nose into the family problems and not always help in ways she you would think a sister would. She knew the Reverend was abusive but she didn't do anything about it. As for the Reverend (Gabriel) He was an abusive hot headed father. Nothing like a speaker of a church should be like. This shows the loss of faith. The hypocrisy of religion. ---- Tony Pisciella
2. Throughout the story we got to learn more about each character.
John was Elizabeths son but not Gabriel's. This is why in the story we see the hatred Gabriel has towards the boy. To Gabriel this represents Elizabeths time of unholiness and a period before she found herself. He doesn't like that side of her at all so it is only natural that he doesn't like the son as well. As for Johns character, i would say he was fearful and very soft-spoken.
Roy was disobedient. He is Gabriel's legitimate son and he was spoiled compared to John. Roy didn't listen to his mother and seemed to do as he pleased. Roy wanted freedom and had to learn the hardships of the outside world on his own.
Elizabeth got around as a younger girl. She has good intentions towards raising her children but she also is a bit of a coward. She protected herself with a child and left her son John open to her husbands wrath. She showed her caring side when she was worried about Roy's face and she was scared when he ran out on the the rocks in the first place. She is almost a hypocrite because she took shots at Gabriel parenting and told him not to touch John but then she didn't even protect her son from his anger afterwards.
Gabriel is a hot headed reverend who is actually put into the story to show the authors loss of faith in the church. Here is a man who is supposed to be man of faith and who talks out problems but instead he goes home and beats his children and possibly his wife.
She is almost like Gabriel in the sense that she is a holy women who instead of diffusing hot situations like you think a sister would she seems to make problems worse. You can see this when Gabriel came home angry after she supposedly went out to held get him ready for the problems at home. Sister McCandles is nosey and nothing like you would think a holy women to be like. ----Tony Pisciella
---------------------------Connections to Modernism---------------------------
No Resolution - "the scrape and jangle of the lunchbox as he picked it up, bending his dark head near the toe of his father's heavy shoe." Baldwin keeps the reader guessing if Gabriel kicked John in the end of the story.
Violence - Common in modernistic literature, Baldwin shows violence in and outside the home of the american life. He shows violence that takes place out in an empty lot on a jagged rockpile. Kids fight there everyday to see who can make it to the top, which may be life or death for some kids. We can infer that Baldwin uses violence in his home when everyone is scared of Gabriels return home from work. Gabriel could be an abusive father. Elizabeth takes her child when gabriel raises cain over Roys incident of leaving the stairwell and going to the rockpile without his moms permission. The kids are forebidden to go there. We are not positive Gabriel is abusive but we sense it in the end.
Use of Symbols - The Rockpile and Sister McCandless, seen above. Symbols were common in modernism during the 20th century.
Loss of Hope in the world - Sister McCandless Represents this in the Rockpile. She is a non, and knows Gabe is dangerous. She is also a member of the church.
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