The Symbolism of the Bowl in Janus by Ann Beattie
In "Janus" Ann Beattie starts out by describing a certain bowl. The entire essay describes this bowl in many different situations and from different points of view. After reading the story one might think the bowl symbolizes herself or changes in her life or even the way she looks at herself. However unconventional it may seem, a deeper analysis of the story pointed me in the direction of seeing the bowl as a symbol of her love.
Initially the bowl is perfect, as any new love seems to be, spite not being the conventional beauty that everyone would see: " The bowl was perfect. Perhaps it was not what you'd select if you faced a shelf of bowls, and not the sort of thing that would inevitably attract a lot of attention at a crafts fair, yet it had real presence" (Par. 1). Everyone that finds a new love often thinks of it as perfect, even if other people say the contrary and do not pay much attention to it.
When the narrator talks about the bowl on paragraphs two to four, it is clear that even dough Andrea is proud of her bowl she tries to make it as unnoticeable as possible. She tries to make it blend in with the other things as it was not strategically placed: " But the bowl was not ostentatious, or even so noticeable that anyone would suspect that it had been placed deliberately" (Par. 4). She knew people would notice it but not know that it was placed there on purpose, right at their face, to make them feel at home.
The narrator also describes how Andrea perceives this love within her. The bowl was kept on a coffee table because she wanted to see it, it was large enough that it did not seem fragile or vulnerable, that was the way she saw this love. She was glad she had it and felt it was strong and invulnerable.
In the first line of paragraph seven she uses foreshadowing and hints to the reader what is going to happen at the end: "She didn't keep it carefully wrapped…" (Par. 7). The fact that she did not keep it carefully wrapped means that she did not take care very well of her love and the relationship could only end the way it did.
Paragraph eight is key in understanding Andrea's reasons to find a new love and why this love is so special to her. She describes her husband's reaction to the bowl, which really symbolizes his reaction when he notices that something is different. He notices she is happy even dough he does not know why. He smiles and says the bowl is pretty, glad to see that his wife is happy but never examining the reason, he never picks up the bowl and looks at it closely. Andrea also notices that he has no more interest in her bowl that she has in his camera, which...