April 15, 2014
Motifs and Symbols in ‘One Flesh’
In the short story “One Flesh”, we are introduced to Frank Wendell, an elderly man who has lost his wife to diabetes and is now a loner who looks for objects of value on the beach with his metal detector. The theme of lost-time, isolation and sentiment run through the story, even as Frank makes friends with shop owner Connor. These themes take a turn for a theme of hope as the story comes to a close and Frank meets Edie. A number of symbols and motifs are used in this story to represent the ups and downs of life and how knowledge and friendship can help anyone overcome their internal struggles. Three motifs that run through the story and illustrate the above ideas contained in the story are clocks, water and rings.
The very first sentence of the story starts with the words “The digital clock in front of the Rockingham County Trust blinked off and, instantaneously, on again” (Mills 1). This suggests that time is an important theme in the story. We are further reminded of the importance of time in the second part of the same sentence – “it’s immense bright-red numerals informing Were Road that 9:12 had arrived on this mid-August Tuesday morning”(Mills 1). The way the sentence is framed suggests that time is both urgent and fast, and lazy and slow all at the same time. The blinking red numbers on the clock suggest urgency, but “mid-August Tuesday morning” sounds like it’s just another ordinary day. Time is only given rhythm in the way it is used....