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d. Katie's love for music and life full of joy is likened to Purple martins is fond
of making sweet melodies.
Clare, Henry Dee's neighbor is also fond of the birds.
a. Clare can be likened with the purple Martins due to her character.
b. Just as the purple martins prefer to live in colonies, Clare needs a lonely life
after the death of her husband.
c. Clare enjoys the company of Raymond and decided to overlook his dark past.
Raymond is seen as a hawk.
a. Raymond is struggling with drug abuse and is a know-it-all kind of a person
and is disliked by many people. He is seen as a hawk.
b. Just as a hawk preying on the lonely Clare.
a. Symbolism of birds in the novel brings out the true nature of the characters
b. Purple martins and the hawks represent two opposing nature of human beings.
Symbolism of Birds in a Bright Forever
A Bright Forever is a novel by renowned author, Lee Martin. The novel is based on the
settings of Indiana in the 1970s (Martin 7). The novel revolves around the disappearance and
death of Katie Mackey, daughter of a respected and prominent businessman in the
neighborhood. There is continued blame game and guilt consciousness among the family
members and other people attached to Mackey's Family. The father, Mr. Junior Mackey, is
guilty of his role in disappearance of the daughter since he proposed that she return the
library books that fateful evening when she disappeared (Martin 17). The discussion and
analysis of the novel will show that the author uses birds as a symbolism on the human
The brother, Gilley, is guilty of ratting her over dinner for ruining his music tracks.
Henry Dee, her mathematics tutor. However, he is guilty of secretly making sexual advances
on her to an extent of kissing her on the cheek when she tackled a problematic math's
question (Magliocco 1). Besides all these guilt consciousness that fills the novel, the author
uses birds throughout the novel as symbolic features. Martin states, "Katie and Renee Cherry
were anguishing over that the first time that he had come to tutor Katie" (Martins 234). Both
Clare and Henry have a connection and love for these birds and they symbolically represent
specific nature of their characters.
Hawks in the novel symbolically represent the human predators. Biologically, hawks
are natural predators which prey on smaller birds and other creatures for survival. They use
their mighty claws and sharp eyesight to take advantage of the innocent smaller and weaker
creatures and birds like purple martins. Henry Dee is a lonely bachelor and a mathematics
teacher in the local neighborhood school (Martin 26). He gets an opportunity to tutor Katie
Mackey over the summer and he falls in love with her secretly. He spends some nights spying
on the Mackey family and listening to the music that Katie loves (Magliocco 2). Henry was
always watching and waiting for the right moment to make his move. He goes to an extent of
sneaking in her bedroom during the tuition session to get some of her hair (Martin 112).
Henry Dee's behavior can be likened to that of a hawk, with a natural predator waiting to
pounce on a weaker and much lovelier prey.
Katie represents the purple martins birds which are lovely and colorful. They are
usually in colonies and build their nests high up in the posts. Katie is from an affluent family,
high up in the social ladder (Martin 24). She is beautiful and innocent just as the purple
martins. Purple martins are fond of making sweet melodies which is likened with Katie's love
for music and life full of joy. She's a jolly girl and loves singing, playing musical notes and
laughing (Martin 26). Henry Dee's intentions are not genuine. He is desperately in love with
Katie and wants to get romantically involved with her. During one of the sessions, He admits
kissing her on the cheek on the pretense of congratulating her for solving hard mathematical
Henry Dee's neighbor, Clare, is also fond of the birds. Clare can be likened with the
purple Martins due to her character. She is a humble widow who has lived a lonely life after
the death of her husband (Martin 53). Just as the purple martins prefer to live in colonies,
humans are social beings who need to interact and find suitable companions in their lives.
Clare is a kind lady and humble at heart. Many consider her brainless in the society due to the
choice of husband she choose to marry (Magliocco 2). Clare married a foreigner and a
neighborhood outcast Raymond (Martin 55). Clare enjoys the company of Raymond and
decided to overlook his dark past. She is naïve and does not look into Raymond's older life
which was disturbed and dark at the expense of her happiness.
Raymond is struggling with drug abuse and often experiences blackouts due to
dependence on LSD (Martin 68). Raymond is a know-it-all kind of a person and is disliked
by many people. He is seen as a hawk preying on the lonely Clare. Being an outsider and
taking advantage of Clare's loneliness, Raymond is an opportunist who will go an extra mile
to achieve what he wants. Ray's opportunistic character is also manifested when he
blackmails Henry Dee for killing Katie Mackey (Martin 170). Ray blames Henry for always
hiding in the alley to spy on Katie, kissing her on the cheek and storming her bedroom to take
some of her hair. He categorically frames Henry for disappearance of Katie, although we
know it is Raymond who took her out riding that evening (Martin 220). Such opportunistic
behavior is captured by the author to reflect the hawk nature.
Symbolism of birds in the novel brings out the true nature of the characters involved.
The two opposing nature of the birds, purple martins and the hawks, shows the opposing lives
of the characters represented by the author. Martins are peaceful and innocent while hawks
are shrewd and opportunistic. The author uses such symbolism to capture and portray the true
picture of the lives of human beings.
Martin, Lee. The Bright Forever: A Novel. Broadway Books, 2006. Print. 1-285
Magliocco, Amos: The Bright Forever. Indiana Review; Vol. 27 (2) 168-169
6 of 6 pages
- Quote paper
- Selina Kolls (Author), 2016, "The Bright Forever" by Lee Martin. A Review, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/338272