Tuesday, October 25, 2011


We discussed this a little bit back in August when we were talking about our summer reading books, but it seems to me that ants are a common symbol of decay and death in literature and art. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, the ants appeared as the house was decaying and as a symbol of ultimate decay at the end when they consume the last Aureliano. The Buendias have been destroyed by ants. Also in The Tin Drum, the ants appear when the Russian soldiers enter the cellar where Oskar and the others are. This is the scene where Matzerath dies, but Oskar is solely focused on the ants.
I am blogging about this today because we talked briefly about Dali's The Persistence of Memory in class today. Dali painted this in the mist of the turmoil between the two World Wars. I think it is interesting how most critics noted that Dali is emphasizing the relative nature of time with the melting clocks. Furthermore, I think that the ants on the clock could signify the end of "man-created" time. Ants are certainly a powerful symbol.


alyb said...

I agree that the ants symbolize the end of "man created time." I find it interesting that people have had such different views of mankind through the ages. Some civilizations see life as a wonderful thing that just gets better in the afterlife, while others view life is something unimportant and ephemeral.

Mallory said...

I like that ants appear over and over again within the works that we are reading. It shows that authors think that ants symbolize the same thing, death and decay. This becomes very apparent in 100 years of solitude when the ants show up as the house decays from all its glory in the previous years.

christine said...

To me, ants can symbolize a plethora of various things. For example, yes they can be used to symbolize decay because they eat things...and theyre gross; but they can also symbolize teamwork because every ant has a specific job to benefit the colony. For theyre many symbolc meanings, ants constantly appear in literature.