Symbolism is a narrative technique used by many authors. A symbol is a thing that signifies something else. This narrative technique is used in the novel “Shahana” by Rosanne Hawke. To find the symbols you have to think critically about the book and it was not an easy job to find them, but I found some. There are two symbols in the book and they are Rani, the goat and Neelum river.
The first symbol I found in the book was Rani, the goat. This goat symbolises hope because Shahana feels that with it she can survive and that is the most valuable thing she has. Without it, she could not have taken care of her brother as she does. Since her brother, Tanveer is allergic to buffalo milk, he has to drink the goat milk because that is what she has. Rani is also important for other characters in the book such as the boy that they found at the river, Zahid. When Rani is with him, he feels that he get stronger and that it is his friend. Hope is an ability to see an opportunity in the challenges and therefore is hope crucial in life. That is why this symbol is very important in the story, especially for Shahana, because the hope for that she can get a better life one day is what that makes her able to get through all of the different obstacles. The author uses this symbol very often, but it takes some time to realise that it is a symbol. Rani, the goat is crucial for the story and for all the characters, because it symbolises for something so significant as hope.
Neelum river is another symbol and it stands for peace. Shahana says that she feels safe to be there even though it is close to Line of Control, where the soldiers are patrolling. The feeling that she is safe is a feature for peace because in a place with peace we are more likely to feel safe. On the other hand, we have Tanveer who “loves the little river”(Shahana, p.15) which means he loves the peace. Zahid was transported into Pakistan with this river. This peace brought him here and kept him a safe for a few days at Shahana`s residency. Zahid makes Shahana understand that if we learn to understand the enemy then we would be closer to peace. This is an example of how important peace is in life is and that is what the author tries to convey by using this symbol. Furthermore, this symbol is signifying for peace, and that is what all the commoners who are affected by the war want regardless if they are on the Pakistani or the Indian side of the border. This is the reason why the author is emphasizing on the river Neelum.
It is no accident that the goat and Neelum river is important in the story when they symbolise for two significant things such as hope and peace.
Hawke, Rosanne: Shahana, 2013, Allen&unwin