In novels, symbolism is often used to enhance the meaning of a story. By using a specific symbol to represent a person, an idea, emotion, or an event, the reader is able to get more out of the true meaning of the work, and perhaps, understand more fully the intent of the author. In the novel The Time of the Doves, written by Merci?? Rodoreda, the main symbol is the doves. This symbol is used as a negative representative, mirroring different people, events, and emotions through out the novel.
Usually, a symbol is consistent in its meaning, however, in this novel, the meaning changes according to context.The severity of the doves and the situation they represent, and how they affect those around them, increase as the novel progresses. The first time the doves are introduced in the novel was a few months after Quimet and Colemeta had been married.
It dove appeared on their balcony with a broken wing, half dead, and bloody. At first, everyone had different reactions to the bird. Quimet was fascinated by it and wanted to keep it.
Colometa, saw no harm in it, and nursed the bird back to health. Cintet, wanted to let the bird go, thinking it belonged to a neighbor.Mateu, said the best thing to do to the bird would be to kill it, “that it was better for it to die than to live tied up like a prisoner” (Rodoreda 65). Nevertheless, Quimet decided to keep the dove, and the next day, brought a mate home for it. They named the birds Coffee and Maringa.
A few days later, Quimet, Cintet, and Mateu came over and started to build the dovecote. Colometa says: [They] took everything I had out of the shed: my clothes basket, my chairs, my hamper for dirty clothes, my basket full of clothesline..
.they promised me that later on they’d build another shed where I could keep my things, but for the moment I had to bring everything down to the apartment… (Rodoreda 67) The displacement of Colometa and of her things at this point in the novel shows just exactly how important she was to Quimet compared to the doves. She explains, “Whatever they wanted they got” (Rodoreda 69). The reader can also sense the theme of inferiority of women.
Although, naturally, Colometa was a very compliant character, the reader can still see how much the male plays the dominant role in the relationship.Continuing through the novel, Colometa begins having “little headaches. ” Stressed, tired, and uneasy about the doves, life starts to become more complicated. The doves become the common topic for conversation, and soon, first priority.
“I couldn’t hang clothes on the roof because the doves would get them dirty. I had to hang them on the balcony” (Rodoreda 73). The reader can feel the emotion behind this statement, as it shows the disgust Colometa is beginning to feel towards the doves. The life of Colometa remained close to constant from that point on, that is, until she got a job cleaning houses.