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W.D. Valgardson uses much symbolism in his story, Saturday Climbing, to help reader gain a greater understanding of his message. He uses symbolism in two important areas: objects that have symbolic value, and setting, which relates the relation between father and daughter. Many object in Saturday Climbing have important symbolic value. For example, the "chock nut, the wire loop, the carabiner, the rope", represents the relation between Barry and Moira. "Kfragile as they looked, would hold ten times his weight." Like a rope although their relation seems fragile, but it's stronger then it seems.
The cliff itself is another important symbol. It shows their relation, as time pass by. "Then, unexpectedly, the surfaces smoothed; the places where he could get a secure hold were spread farther and farther apart." This quotation reflects the difficulty Barry encounters in his role as a working, single-parent of a teenager. Barry's secure hold on the rocks, symbolise his monitoring of his daughter. As Moira becomes more independent, it is harder and harder for Barry to keep watching her and make sure she's safe. Moira is going out late to parties and on dates. Barry can't be with her all day, and therefore can't maintain her security. The secure holds can also symbolise the direction the relationship between Barry and Moira is heading. It seems that they are distancing themselves from each other. Barry has trouble keeping track of what Moira does, and Moira is willing to let Barry into her world by telling him what's going on.
"At the same time, the numerous cracks dwindled until there was no place to set any protection." This refers to the dwindling of the relationship. It is beginning to crack, or break apart under the stress and pressure. It also symbolises the aspect of growing up that one becomes more independent. Barry will be able to protect Moira less and less, as she starts to find her own way.
When Barry is stuck half way up the cliff, it represents that Barry has encountered a problem with Moira. "If he fall, he would drop twenty-five feet to the piton, then twenty-five feet past it before his rope came taut and held him. There was, because of the elasticity of the rope, a chance that he would ground out." This is also representative of the risks Barry is willing to take for his daughter in order to salvage their relationship. Barry would go to extremes for his daughter. The exert also shows that one fall and it could be all over. This is the case in the climb and it is the same in parenthood. A fall could prove fatal, and would lead to failure.
In each situation, Barry is under enormous pressure to succeed. Barry," K set his foot on rough patch that would provide the necessary friction to hold his weight." The relationship between the main characters is tested throughout. It is often pushed to the edge, on the brink of disaster. Even though it may seem bleak, the relationship prevails. Just as Barry seems to be able to get himself out of the predicaments on the climb, the father-daughter relationship has overcome its own obstacles.
"His daughter, eighty feet below, seemed so small that Barry felt he could lift her into his arms." Barry still views Moira as being his little girl. She appears small and innocent. She seems too young to be out in the cruel and harsh world. This view of her may never change, but Barry's level of acceptance of Moira's independence will.
"From time to time, she paused to pull loose the chock nuts and pitons her father had left behind." By pulling out the pitons and chock nuts, Moira is saying metaphorically, that she doesn't require her father's protection. She wants to handle things on her own, and take on obstacles (such as school) by herself too.
"For a moment, he suffered vertigo, and the cliff seemed to sway as if in an earthquake." This is symbolic of the fact that Barry is afraid to go on because of the uncertainty that surrounds the future (especially
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