The Effects of Symbols On "Say Yes" The author of the short story 'Say Yes,' Tobias Wolff, uses a number of symbols to express his different views on racism throughout the story. Wolff uses this literary device to express a message to his readers. Symbols, something representing something else by association resemblance or convention, are used efficiently in this short story. Wolff uses colors to symbolize a hatred for an alternative race in this short story. The husband more than once makes reference to dark colors which shows the reader that the husband sees this world in black and white. The husband sees the world as good vs.
evil, white vs. black society. Furthermore, the reference to color in the short story "Say Yes", symbolizes the husbands strong dislike for African Americans. Wolff symbolize the husbands strong dislike for African Americans when the husband states, "The water had gone a flat gray" (Wolff 518). To some this statement might not mean much. Wolff's decision to make reference to dark colors symbolizes the characters dislike for an alternative race.
The choice of dark colors shows it is one of the African American race. The husband made reference to colors briefly after he and his wife started discussing differences over the idea of interracial relationships. The heated argument caused the wife to clean the dishes poorly resulting in dirty dishes. The husband threw the dishes back into the sink and the water seemed to turn a "flat gray" (Wolff 518). The husbands only description was of the dark water in the sink.
Wolff again indirectly shows the husbands feelings towards African-Americans through symbolism. This symbol contributes to Wolff's message or theme showing the husband's strong dislike for African Americans. After the author uses this symbolization of a "flat gray", the wife "plunged her hands under the surface" (Wolff 518) and cut her finger on the silverware. She then cries out asher thumb bleeds from the cut. The husband immediately rushes to her need. He acted in concern for her and hoped she appreciated how quick he rushed to her aid.
The cut she had from the silverware symbolizes the hurt on the inside. The pain from inside was symbolizing the pain on the inside. Her husband's inconsiderate feelings for alternate races made her feel like she didn't know him as well as she thought she did. Wolff used symbolization very effectively by comparing the pain on the outside to the pain on the inside. Wolff's decision to put in this description of dirty water was not because Wolff hates washing dishes. Wolff put that in there to show a deeper meaning to it.
Wolff is trying to show the husband's views on the topic being discussed indirectly. Wolff shows a deeper meaning when the husband is continuing to wash the dishes. Heis spraying the silverware and "darkened to pale blue" (Wolff 518). This shows again the husband's reference to colors. This happened right after the wife asked if he would marry her if she were black. Wolff added this symbolism right after the question to indirectly show the husbands feelings toward the topic.
He shows his dislike for African-Americans when he refused to answer the question. Wolff uses colors to show his negative feelings towards interracial relationships. This symbolization helps contribute to his theme of the husband's strong dislike for African Americans. Wolff uses excellent symbols to express his message or theme. Short stories form is compressed where each word is carefully selected, each incident and detail contributes to the meaning the writer is after and symbols are words and images that have multiple meanings. Symbols are very important to short stories.
As a result, the reference to color in the short story "Say Yes", symbolizes the husbands dislike for African American.