David Malouf

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The Griddlecake Symbol Analysis

The Griddlecake Symbol Icon

In addition to being another source of humble, everyday enjoyment, the griddlecake that Somax gives to Priam is a symbol of the nature and power of storytelling. As King of Troy, Priam is used to language that operates in specific and set ways (often by symbolizing something abstract and idealized). The idea of telling a story that does not hold any "higher" meaning is novel to him, and Somax's description of his daughter-in-law making the griddlecakes is his first experience of this kind of language. What's more, when Priam actually eats the griddlecake, he is impressed by its "lightness"—a quality Somax attributes to the way his daughter-in-law flips the cakes as she cooks them. This idea that Priam can "taste…the lightness of the girl's wrist" in the griddlecake itself speaks to the ability of narrative to collapse boundaries of time and space through its focus on immediate, sensory details. Ultimately, this makes storytelling a way of promoting empathy, because it allows Ransom's characters to experience, in a visceral way, events that they do not or cannot have direct access to.

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The Griddlecake Symbol Timeline in Ransom

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Griddlecake appears in Ransom. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 3
Identity, Humanity, and Mortality Theme Icon
Language, Storytelling, and Empathy Theme Icon
...Priam at first declines, and instead simply listens as Somax describes how his daughter-in-law cooks griddlecakes, deftly flipping them with her fingers. Eventually, however, Somax does mange to convince Priam to... (full context)
Language, Storytelling, and Empathy Theme Icon
The Epic and the Everyday Theme Icon
...fact that Somax’s speech gives him insight into someone else’s life: as Priam eats the griddlecake, he pictures Somax’s daughter-in-law making it and feels a connection to her. (full context)