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Symbolic Meaning of "Warning 

            â€œWarning” by Jenny Joseph is a poem that is symbolic of the natural progression of the average person’s life. The progression is the change of attitude towards things that was once important in life. Through Joseph’s character in “Warning,” the idea of possessing a carefree view on life at a later age is presented. The character can be classified as a rebel because she defies societal norms and adopts non-conformist ideas, choosing to do what ever she pleases. The poem describes a metamorphosis of the mind and actions that could be considered a rite of passage upon becoming a senior citizen. .
             The poem begins with the character’s clothing. “…I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.” Through the literary device of overstatement, Joseph uses two extreme colors (that does not match) to express the idea that she will wear whatever she pleases. Symbolically, purple is a color that represents rebellion. This line demonstrates the character’s defiance, not caring of how silly others may believe it to look, hence going against societal norms. .
             Joseph uses another literary device, metonymy, to express that she will neglect things that were once important and begin to focus on luxuries. “And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves and satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.” In this powerful statement Joseph is not specifically be speaking of butter, she uses it to symbolize a staple or a necessity. She does the same with summer gloves, satin sandals, and brandy but to symbolize lavish luxuries. .
             Joseph continues to use metonymy in “Warning” with the lines “And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens and learn to spit.” Symbolically, this line represents the depraved and crude manner in which the character would like to be able to live at an old age.