As humans, our existence has intrigued us since the beginning of time. Once we have passed away there is no real presence of our reality. While alive, we search for the true meaning of why we were put on this earth. In the end, everyone eventually dies. It isn't something we really look forward to. The stories "I Used to Live Here Once" by Jean Ryes and "A Father's Story" by Andre Dubus, have the literary elements symbolism and point of view. They are different but they both represent death in the sense that what us as humans and our time on earth really mean and what our presence being here will leave behind.
By using symbolism, the writer can use different words to illustrate the meaning while being to compared to a certain thing or person instead of calling it by name. According to Clugston (2010), "a symbol is a word picture that presents an object, person, or action that conveys two meanings: its own literal meaning and something it stands for as well." Permanence and presence is shared between the stories and their use of symbols. The story "I Used to Live Here Once" by Jean Ryes deals with the issue of the character as once existing. "A Father's Story" by Andre Dubus involves more understanding to identify the determination for transience a man experiences.
In Rhys story, death is not spoken of but by the use of symbols, it is represented. The response, "Hasn't it gone cold all of a sudden," signifies the chill of death (Rhys, 1987). By saying "she knew" we know that the character is aware of her death (Rhys, 1987).
The narrator shares "what I call my life," a metaphor for his existence, as the character Luke Ripley introduces himself as the person sharing his story (Dubus, n.d.). Luke confesses he is thinking of death and speaks of "the brink of something," which symbolizes the understanding of what happens after death (Dubus, n.d.). Throughout the story, the hemlock tree is mentioned. The tree can be used to represent death. Death enters the life of the character in a way that the reader doesn't expect. At first the story makes you believe that the man is considering his life and what his worth is on earth. After reading the story you then realize that Ripley thinks about his daughter drinking and driving and her accidentally killing a person.
The bits of literature are offered with no specific reference to what the narrator is saying. It is just assumed that the narrator is talking to the audience until the end of each piece. Point of view, according to Clugston (2010), refers to who tells the story - how the action is presented to the reader. In the short story entitled "I Used to Live Here Once" by Rhys, the narrator uses a third person limited absent point of view. By using this point of view it leaves doubt in what the character being there really means and how she views the truth. In "A Father's Story, the author speaks to the audience in a way that makes you think he is sharing his secrets. He indirectly shares his own thoughts with God while justifying his actions.