Other elements that are present in this novel include symbols and metaphors. Symbols are the use of some unrelated idea to represent something else. Metaphors are direct comparisons made between characters and ideas. There are many symbols and metaphors used by the author such as:

1. Like God who made Adam from clay and blew air into him, Jeremiah Land blew air and life into his motionless, clay-like son as well.

2. Reuben takes a moment to explain how it feels to try to breathe while having an asthmatic attack. He compares it to a bellows which has a tiny air-born seed suddenly stick inside it and slowly you have to work a little harder to make it work. It becomes sponge-bound and the air couldn't blow out the candle on a baby cake. The air gets close and sticky and you know that if you fall asleep the bellows will stop working completely. ..........

.........13. Reuben compares his lung problems to those of Teddy Roosevelt whose father used to ride astride his horse, Greatheart, as fast as he could go to open Teddy's lungs. It speaks to Reuben less of romance than of desperation. Mrs. Roosevelt believed that she could calm her son's struggles for breath with stories of exotic pets like the glorious lavender moths of South America with wings a foot across which natives kneeled to worship. Sometimes, this worked, but usually it meant the great ride on the great horse. Reuben is reminded of this story now as he rides along behind Davy at what seems an overconfident speed.


Another element that is very dominant in this novel is that of a motif or a recurring thematic element used in the development of a literary or artistic work. There are three motifs in this novel.

The first motif is that of miracles. Some examples include:

1. Reuben's birth and how Jeremiah revives him..........

..........11. Jeremiah bargaining with God to save Reuben's life by taking his place and sending him back with completely cured lungs.

The second motif is that of dreams. Some examples include:

1. Reuben has a terrible dream in which he is crossing a shallow river that........

.........4. Reuben awakes from a dream of the skin bag with Waltzer peering into his eyes.

A third motif is that of war. The family finds themselves at war after Davy commits the murder and images of war appear at various points in the narrative:

1. We and the world, my children, will always be at war. Retreat is impossible. Arm yourselves.......

.........20. In heaven, Reuben and his father arrive at a city, and as they look together from a hill down on it, they see rivers of people streaming along, singing a hymn, and it is as though they march in preparation for some imminent and joyous and sanctified war.

The complete study guide is currently available as a downloadable PDF, RTF, or MS Word DOC file from the PinkMonkey MonkeyNotes download store. The complete study guide contains summaries and notes for all of the chapters; detailed analysis of the themes, plot structure, and characters; important quotations and analysis; detailed analysis of symbolism, motifs, and imagery; a key facts summary; detailed analysis of the use of foreshadowing and irony; a multiple-choice quiz, and suggested book report ideas and essay topics.


Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".