what do the heather birds symbolize in initiation

One of the motifs and behaviors that the initiates are constantly warned against doing is smiling. Millicent is repeatedly warned by Louise and Bev not to smile during the initiation process. This makes it difficult for Millicent to enjoy hazing, which makes her less likely to want to join a group that she had previously believed would be full of “merriment”; the motif alludes to the misery that conformity invariably brings, as the story goes. Notably, Millicent’s smile for Herb is not so much a sincere expression of emotion as it is a social performance. When he approaches her, Millicent is unsure of what to say, so she decides to just give him a charming smile (244) This attempt to negotiate the complex regulations pertaining to hazing provides a sneak peek at the sorority’s self-policing and the social environment it represents, which includes the pressure from society to exhibit femininity in certain ways (e g. , “sweetly”). In contrast, Millicent laughs “spontaneously” and uncontrollably when she converses with the man on the bus, emphasizing the sincerity of their relationship and the importance of uniqueness.

Silvia Plath’s short story “Initiation” describes a girl who joins a private club in an attempt to blend in. In the end, she learns how to be authentic and decides against joining the club. Through characterization, symbolism, and conflict, Plath teaches readers the value of staying true to oneself. One of the story’s major symbols is birds, more especially Heather’s birds. The main character, Millicent, meets a guy on the bus who tells her about these birds after she is dared as part of an initiation ritual. These birds are described as mythological creatures by the man on the bus. Throughout the day, the mythological moors are home to heather birds, who soar and sing wildly and sweetly in the sunlight. This quotation characterizes the Heather birds the man mentions in the story; they are vivid purple and have As the story comes to a close, Millicent must choose between becoming a Heather bird and a regular bird that flies with the flock. The common birds stand in for the girls who endure the humiliation of initiation and join the sorority. The birds of Heather represent Millicent because it was during the initiation that she learned how to be authentic. She refused to join the flock and become a member like the others. Instead she rejected the invitation to join the sorority. The initiation process teaches Millicent a lot about herself, and this is the part that I learned the most about myself—the worst and hardest part of the initiation. However, Millicent was certain that just then, a wild and lovely melody would emerge from a distance, and she knew it had to be the Heather birds’ song. (5) This passage explains how the Heather birds represent Millicent. The conflict Millicent faces—both with herself and with other people—is another central theme of the narrative. Millicent is always in conflict with hers .


What are the Heather birds juxtaposed with in initiation?

What are heather birds juxtaposed with? The heather birds form a strong contrast to pale grey-brown birds(sparrows). The crucial moment is to deny membership to the sorority after five days of initiation.

Why does Millicent decide to identify with the heather birds and not the sparrows?

Why does Millicent decide to identify with the heather birds rather than the sparrows? Because heather birds are mythological birds that are wild and free. She reevaluates her interest in the sorority and realizes she doesn’t want to be a sparrow(follower), she wants to be more like the heather bird(free and unique).

What is the meaning of initiation by Sylvia Plath?

In the short story “Initiation”, the author, Sylvia Plath, conveys the theme that being part of a group and having friends is great, but being an individual and having an individual identity is stronger.

What is the theme of initiation by Sylvia?

In “Initiation”, Plath creates the theme; person does not need to follow the social norms to be accepted into society, through the utilization of foreshadowing to elucidate the importance of being an individual and not collapsing under the pressure of society’s set standards.