Thursday, April 23, 2009

Prodigal Summer: Meticulous Metaphors: Relentless Rain

A particular aspect of Kingsolver's writing that her readers should look out for is the use of nature as metaphor. While recurrent in not only this novel, but all of her novels as a collection, the metaphors continue to grow deeper each time they appear.
The most notable one, I believe, is rain. Rain was a one of the metaphors that started this novel off with a third-person view on Deanna, describing her as someone who "loved the air after a hard rain" (Summer 1). I get the feeling that rain represents all of the hardships that people face, falling unsympathetically onto the miserable faces of the people who need those hardships the least. However, the metaphor doesn't stop, like rain itself, which soaks deep into the earth until it becomes too dry to continue. Deanna's voice portrays "the miracle that two months of rain and two days of spring heat could perform on a forest floor. It had burst out in mushrooms" (Summer 20). Rain brings Life. While our hardships weigh us down, once they are over we feel weightless. Rain is what is necessary for plants to grow, people to live, thoughts to develop. Rain is there through the bad times and the good.
When Deanna and Eddie's relationship is developing, Kingsolver's third-person voices mentions that "it would poor down rain. He would share her bed" (Summer 100). While this could be seen as a foreshadowing for the tribulations between the two characters later in the story, I think that this rain is actually a fresh, sweet rain. Completely different to the rain that falls when "Lusa stood on the front porch, watching rain pour over the front eave in long
silver strings" (Summer 101). After experiencing a death in your family, especially that of a spouse, I think that feelings of anxiety, loss, and depression are predominant in the soul.
The rain, as described here, definitely expresses the ambiance of a widow's household. So, then, is rain purely there for ambiance? Does the type of rain simply express the feeling of a situation via descriptive words from Kingsolver's lavish vocabulary? Would that be deep enough for such a renowned American author? Is metaphor plainly another way to portray ambiance?

No. I think that aside from the already significant metaphor of rain foreboding a dramatic event, rain plays a bigger role that connects with another metaphor. Lusa, at one point, says that "when it rains, [she hears] children running on the stairs" of a house that is empty of anyone except for herself (Summer 232). Of course, then, Kingsolver is making a connection between the metaphor of rain and her ghost metaphor.

~Father Nature, Editor

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