Johnny Tremain: Metaphor Analysis
To Johnny, the musket is a symbol of death. He sees the barrel of each musket as a “wicked round eye.” Staring at the end of the barrel is like “looking into the face of death.” However, to Rab, who desperately wants to modern gun, it is a symbol of strength and power. It is also a symbol of pride. When Rab finally receives his musket, he is proud to drill with the Minute Men.
The Rising Eye
The rising eye is the symbol on the Lyte family crest. Literally, it is an image of a sun, with spreading rays, rising over the sea. It is placed “on everything” Merchant Lyte owns: “carved above his counting house on Long Wharf, engraved on all his silver—even on dog collars and harnesses.” Clearly, to Merchant Lyte it is a symbol of prosperity and a way to indicate possession of many things. The spreading rays reflect Lyte’s desire to acquire possessions near and far. Metaphorically, Johnny is the rising “son” of the novel. He is the young man who will rise from the turbulent sea to help spread the light of liberty.
Johnny’s “crippled” hand
Johnny’s injured hand is a symbol of his those things in life which hold one back, as well as those things in life which one must overcome. The fact that the injury was accidental suggests that many life-shaping events are beyond one’s control. As Rab points out, Johnny’s self-consciousness over his hand is what actually makes it a disability.
The Silver Cup
Johnny’s silver cup represents a physical link to his past and to the privileged world of the Lytes. As a symbol of richness, it resonates with notion of a “silver chalice” or “silver spoon.” The fact that Merchant Lyte possesses four similar cups while Johnny only possesses one indicates that it is a symbol of material wealth. For much of the novel, as Johnny searches for his true identify, he clings to his cup. However, as he comes to terms with the ugliness of the Lytes, he abandons the cup, stating: “I am better off without it.”
To the British, “Yankee Doodle” is a symbol of the backward American, the “yokel,” which they see reflected in the common clothes the Minute Men wear and the poor weapons they possess. In contrast, to the patriots the song represents independence, pride, and self-reliance.