The Effects of Symbols In Tobias Wolff's "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
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 as
her thumb bleeds from...