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Treasure of Lemon Brown SWIFTTed by the Cooper Symbolism • The report card – The report card early in the story represented the conflict between Greg and his father. While the father wanted Greg to succeed and escape his environment, Greg wanted to be part of that environment as shown by his desire to join the community center basketball league. The author uses a report card which is a common example of how parents want more for their kids than the kids do. • The harmonica – The harmonica symbolized the livlihood and talent of Mr. Brown. It represented a way of life and of freedom that had passed in his life. It represented his dreams and the ability of this man to take care of his family by earning money through his music. The author uses a tangible object, seemingly worthless, to symbolize a treasure, something important that could be passed down – an object that the character’s son also found important. • Sweet Lemon Brown – The name itself is symbolic of by-gone days, as well as an adjective to describe the character. The name is typical of blues singers and the “pet” names that they acquired. Word of mouth “fame” in the form of a nick name, symbolized a certain status and recognition by other blues singers and their audiences. Word Choice/Diction • Treasure – “Every man got to have a treasure. You don’t know that, you must be a fool” The author is trying to hint at a possible theme that to live life without a dream/memory is not really living. • Eerie – “He was an eerie sight, a bundle of rags standing at the top of the stairs, his shadow on the wall looming over him. Maybe, the thought came to Greg, the scene could be even eerier.” This shows that Greg believed the scene could lead to violence, and possibly the death of the old man. The author is building suspense over what will happen to Lemon. • Reconciliation – “…thought of the lecture he knew his father would give him, and smiled.” This last sentence gives the reader the idea that Greg now understood that his father was simply trying to pass on to him the idea of working hard and making Greg’s life better than his father’s had been. Imagery • The kitchen – “small, pale green”, sight imagery, shows the modest, poor background of the protagonist • Lemon Brown – “black, heavily wrinkled face” “halo of crinkly white hair” “layers of dirty coats piled on his smallish frame” “pants were bagged to the knees where they were met with rags” All of these are sight images to describe a character who looks tattered and beaten, a homeless derelict. His appearance hides his true value. • The lightening – “Outside the wind had picked up, sending rain against the window with a force that shook the glass in its frame” Again, visual imagery to show how stormy the night was. The author probably used it to create suspense in the story. Figurative Language • Personification – “dark sky, filled with angry swirling clouds”; “Hard times always after a poor man.” “Then when Mr. Pain see he can’t worry you none, he go on and mess with somebody else.” • Similies – “…his father’s words, like the distant thunder that now echoed through the streets of Harlem…” • Onomatopoeia – “…its tires hissing over the wet street…” • Alliteration - …”stood stock still” Tone • Beginning – negative- Early in the story the tone is rather negative, focusing on the conflict between Greg and his father, the shabbiness of the buildings and the “Rag Man”. The author is trying to show that Greg’s condition is not the best. • Middle – neutral – After Greg meets Lemon Brown the tone of the story changes. Lemon, although a positive character, recounts both good and bad aspects about his life, his talent, and eventually his son’s death. There is a balance of negative and positive for an overall neutral effect. • Fight scene – negative • End – positive – Greg leaves Lemon satisfied that the old man will be okay, and having a better understanding of his own father and the importance of passing an idea down to future generations. The author takes us on a journey from selfishness to hope and understanding through the use of tone in the story. Themes • Ties to the past are more important than the future. • Passing on values from one generation to another cements the bonds between both. • All humans go through changes in fortune. • Understanding others can help us understand ourselves. • The successes of the son can affect the future of the father. • Treasure is defined by personal symbolic worth, no monetary worth.
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