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After the fire, I went to church. In the confessional the priest asked me if I practiced self-pollution. The words were formal, unfamiliar, but I knew what he meant. So, I thought, kneeling there in the dark, crushed with shame, there’s a name for it. I looked at the shadowy grill, looked toward the source of the soothing voice of absolution, the voice of forgiveness and hope, and I lied. ‘No,’ I whispered.


I will admit that I had to read this passage twice before I fully felt I understood what was being conveyed. The bird can be symbolism for the guilt of this character for not doing what others believe is right. The bird is the voice in his mind telling him that what he has done is wrong and that he should be ashamed of himself. His life, which has been paved by religion, has forced him into the mentality that what comes naturally to humans is something to be ashamed of.

Also, one can view the fire as a symbol of passion for the growing boy. It could have been a forewarning of the arrival of the bird and the uncomfortable feelings that are associated with it. At first, I took the fire more literally, but I now see that it can also be figurative for the feelings the character might have for the girl involved. This passage in the confession booth shows that he is trying to come to terms with his guilt but still seems to be struggling with it.


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