Themes and Imagery

Spoiler alert!
The content of this section of the website will be appreciated more by readers AFTER they have read the novel. This section contains background information, thought-provoking ideas and concepts, and an extended analysis of the story. Reading this information before reading the novel will take much of the fun out of the journey, but it will add value to your reading experience after you’re finished.

Authors have themes in mind when they write, and they use figurative language to enhance those themes. I could list the themes and images I used in writing this book, but I believe these story elements are much more fun if they’re discovered by readers.

So if you’re a Zinovy reader, this is your page.
Will you send me your thoughts on the themes and images you discover in Zinovy’s Journey?

With your permission, I’ll choose the most interesting comments and post them on this webpage.

A Contest:

Five $15 Starbucks cards will go to five happy readers who interact with this site. Names will be drawn randomly from the collection of comments chosen, after enough have come in on each of the topics.

Guidelines for comment submissions:

• Each submission must be from 25 to 75 words.
• Each submission must deal with only one theme, symbol, metaphor or allusion.
• Themes must be accurately stated as either a word, a phrase, or a sentence, and imagery must be explained. (see definitions below).
• Ideas for both themes and imagery should be well supported by specific references to, or quotes from, the story.

I’d love to hear from you, even if you’d rather I not post your comments. Please just say the comment is not for publication and I’ll respond privately to your message.

Submit Your Theme

A theme is basically a message, or a common idea that runs as a thread throughout the story. It may be stated in a word, in a phrase, or in a sentence. A theme statement is different from “the moral of the story,” so a theme statement should not include words such as “good” or “bad, “should” or “shouldn’t”. The theme simply states a general, common truth about life, or about the main idea in the story, without judgment or bias.

For example: A story might exhibit the one-word theme of “retribution.”

The theme might also be expressed in the phrase, “a man’s struggle with his desire for revenge,” which states the theme as the topic of the story.

Or it could be stated in the sentence: “A man’s struggle for revenge leads him into insanity.”

Notice this statement does not make a moral judgment. It just states the facts, as supported by the story. The statement, “A man should not seek revenge because it will drive him insane,” is a moral judgment, and so would not be considered a theme statement.

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness between them. Specifically, a metaphor is a statement of similarity between two things without using “like” or “as.” But many other literary devices, such as symbols, similes, hyperboles, and synecdoches, are metaphors as well.

Extended Metaphor
An extended metaphor is a comparison that applies to more than one word or phrase in a story. An extended metaphor might continue throughout several scenes, or even the whole story, in which case it would become a theme of the book.

For example, in the novel, Lord of the Flies, the island could be considered a metaphor for the lost-ness of human beings without social restraints or a moral compass. Since the island is an ever-present reality and an integral part of the story, it would be considered an extended metaphor.

A symbol is simply an object that represents, or stands for, something else. Symbols are often tangible objects—things that can be touched or seen—that are symbolic of something intangible. A sword, or a military helmet, might represent war, for example. And, in the European/North American culture, a heart usually represents love.

Interesting side note: The heart as a representation of love is actually a symbol twice-removed. It’s not a literal heart that’s seen to represent love in our western culture. What we associate with the concept of “love” is actually a symbolic “shape” we have come to associate with a human heart.

It’s also interesting to note that different organs of the body represent love in other cultures. In Papua New Guinea, for example, someone who wants to express love for another might say, “I love you with all my stomach.”

There are several symbols in the story of Zinovy’s Journey. One of them is a lion cub. The lion cub in the story might have more than one symbolic meaning. What do you think it represents?

An allusion is a reference, in one literary work, to something in another piece of literature or in history. Many literary works reference the Bible, or Shakespeare, for example, but a reference to an historical event or figure would also be considered an allusion. Zinovy’s Journey has a few allusions, some of them metaphorical.