Symbols (2008?)

Paul Andreas Fischer and Nona Anne Farris

Refined Dress Code

Steven’s obsession with his dress reflects the importance of dignity in his life. He needs order, not just in the clothes he wears, but also in the actions of his life. When those around him like Ms. Canton and his master leave Stevens’ logical order of life he begins to lose faith in his insular world. The dress code ultimately symbolizes the complete conformity of the household. With this conformity come the idea of a stately manner, which manifests itself in the dress code and that is what makes it an important symbol throughout the book. As the book progresses the refined dress code remains unchanged and is a constant that follows Stevens all throughout his life. This in stark contrast to the slow devolution of his masters sympathy to the Nazis.
Misplacement of the China man doll
The misplacement of the China man doll represents the deterioration of Mr. Steven Sr.’s mind and service. This is almost a revelation to the others in the household that Mr. Stevens is not what he once was; he is not immortal but just a human as everyone else. Although his work was amazing in perfection he was capable of mistake and this would be the first of many to come.  Sadly, he died before his retirement. This can be blamed on the stubbornness of not only himself, but also his son because neither of them believed the master would sustain a home for them after they stopped being of assistance. We cant know whether their suspicions were well founded, but the china doll does represent the beginning of the end of Stevens’ service.
Stevens takes a ride through the country side and this is one of his first experiences traveling for his own pleasure. His entire life has been insulated in service to his master. It is partially because of his sedentary lifestyle that he loses the woman he loves, and remained ignorant of his mater’s nazi sympathies. His ignorance continues to stop him from forming his own opinions. This in turn holds him from becoming his own person since he is entirely absorbed in this great image of his lord. When he begins to doubt his lord’s righteousness, it is already after he begins to travel from his house, and for practical reasons too late to reclaim his youth. He is now past the age where he can enjoy life, and his diligence appears to have been in service of a great evil: the Nazi party.
Work Ethic
Stevens’ work ethic is beyond a healthy level, he is so intensely devoted to his master and the work about the house that he has little time for anything else. Due to his obsession he suffers from the absence of social activity and abandons every opportunity of a normal life. His withdrawal from the outside world prevents him from realizing the distractions that have lead others in the household astray. This isolation of Stevens in many ways is what held him to his strict and respected work ethic. His work ethic is so intense its like a chain holding him to the house. He doesn’t really mind working hard, but becomes troubled when he discovers there is more to life and to morality than mere diligence. This is most apparent when he finds that the love of his life has slipped right through his fingers.

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