Posted: June 4th, 2021
Miss Johnson in Going to the Moon Many authors use symbols as a device in their texts. In “Going to the Moon”, by Nina Ricci, symbolism is used to illuminate the themes and provide a deeper meaning to the short story. The teacher in the short story, Miss Johnson is the most important symbol. Miss Johnson is a necessary symbol because she represents important themes throughout, including the connection between the narrator and his peers, hope for the narrator and acceptance of the narrator.
Miss Johnson represents the single connection that the narrator and his peers share, providing a sense of security for the boy to avoid humiliation and teasing. The narrator and his classmates both share a deep love for Miss Johnson: “I felt protected in that common love, in the importance I gained in sharing it, as if I’d been included in a game that could have no losers, no chance for ridicule or shame” (Page 213).
Miss Johnson is a very important symbol in the play because the connection that she made possible was very important to the narrator as a sense of protection from his peers bantering and a sense of being equal and similar to his classmates. Just as Miss Johnson represents the connection between the narrator and his peers, she also represents hope for the narrator’s future.
Whenever the narrator is in the presence of Miss Johnson, he feels optimistic towards and confident about his life and how it will unfold. His thoughts when he goes to school and sees Miss Johnson entail: “…I felt the small bright hope that my life could be different, that the things marked me out could be erased, a hope made urgent, desperate, by the love that I felt for our teacher Miss Johnson” (Page 212).
Miss Johnson also represents hope for the narrator because she is different form all of her colleagues, however, she is still accepted and respected by her students: “Miss Johnson was one of the few lay teachers at Assumption, and she stood out form the stiff formality of the priests and nuns like a burst of colour in a grey landscape, coming to school in lipstick and high heels… in blouses of shimmering silk,… and we and we were all in love with her, proudly, self-importantly, all hoped to be chosen by her to wipe the blackboards or fetch chalk from the storeroom” (Pages 212-213).
Miss Johnson is the most important symbol in the play because the hope that the narrator feels for his life to be better is planted by the existence of Miss Johnson, and his loving thoughts towards her. Miss Johnson not only represents hope, but she also represents acceptance of the narrator. Miss Johnson is one of the few, if not the only one who accepts the narrator in this short story.
She shows her acceptance of the boy when he stays inside during recess with her to help her with a bulletin board in the classroom: “…she began to hum some song softly to herself as if she had forgotten that I was standing beneath her; and it made me feel oddly relieved to be taken for granted like that, to have been drawn unthinkingly into the small private sphere of Miss Johnson’s aloneness as if there were nothing strange or remarkable about me” (Page 213).
The acceptance towards the narrator that Miss Johnson represents is another reason why Miss Johnson is the most important symbol in the short story. Miss Johnson is not only a teacher in the story, she is also a significant symbol which represents important themes in the short story including: acceptance for the narrator; hope for the narrator, and the bridge that connects the narrator to the children in his class. Without Miss Johnson none of these themes would be apparent, and the boy would have little hope for the future. Miss Johnson is a crucial symbol in this short story.
Read also: Moon By Chaim Potok
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