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Harpo is making a net very much for the same reason Sofia and Celie made a quilt. Although Harpo is carrying this out on his own it still symbolises that he wants to fix his errors. The past participle ‘making’ portrays a continuous image of Harpo working long and hard to benefit from self-improvement. However, a net could also represent that Harpo wants to be protected from something emotionally.

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The word ‘seining’ is a means of catching fish by use of a vertical net with floats at the top and weights at the bottom. This way of catching fish requires minimal effort and so illustrates that Harpo is still not ready for physical activities and reflects Harpo’s role as a domestic one.

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The fact that Harpo is catching fish could associate to the phrase ‘there are plenty more fish in the sea’ in which Harpo wants to find another woman/wife. This could link back to ‘seining’ in which Harpo is not ready to find a woman for himself yet (or he doesn’t want to put in the effort) and so he lets the fish swim into the net themselves. Harpo could still be thinking about Sofia and deep down he still wants to be with her.

Walker then introduces the idea of Harpo whistling, but his whistle is “nothing compared to the way he usually whistle.” This suggests that Harpo has lost confidence in himself. The alliteration on ‘way’ and ‘whistle’ reflects the flowing of the tune, the consonance on the ‘y’ in ‘way’ and ‘usually’ creates a soft continuous sound and supports the idea that his whistle is fading away. In the following sentence Alice Walker describes how weak Harpo’s whistle really is. “His little whistle sound like it lost way down in a jar, and the jar in the bottom of the creek.”

The first few words ‘his little whistle’ could possibly be a phallic reference mentioned by Walker to suggest Harpo’s immaturity at the situation. Harpo has gone off sulking just like a little child and hasn’t faced the matter like a man. This links back to the idea that Harpo has a strong feminine side. The consonance on the letter ‘i’, as well as making the words flow, could convey a very personal feeling; thus supporting the idea of a phallic reference.

On the words ‘little’ and ‘whistle’ they both end in the letters ‘tle’, making them rhyme and chime (like a tune) and create a feeling as if they’re fading away. Walker mentions that Harpo’s whistle is lost in a jar, a jar being transparent and suggests that you can see through Harpo as he wants to be like all the other males.

However, the glass can be broken and Harpo’s real side can be seen, his whistle returns and he regains his confidence. But be careful, as once the glass is broken, the shards can inflict pain. The jar is then lost down a creek which signifies that it cannot be returned without great effort and reflects that Harpo has to try and strive to succeed.

A lot can be discovered about the attitudes and values of Sofia and Harpo from looking at the first two paragraphs. Deep down Sofia loves Harpo and a great effort is needed for her to leave. Sofia wants to leave most of the past behind but takes a few important items to signify change both for her and for Harpo. Harpo must be stricken with pain at the sight of losing his children as he was very much the mother figure. However, Harpo contains all his feeling inside and tries to carry on with his life.

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Kylie Garcia

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