Image of the “gates of heaven” is supposed to symbolize living a life that is devoted to God and finding the lesson that is attached to every failure. The image of the “gates of hell” is meant to symbolize how people can resort to violent conduct, thinking that they would be able to get what they want immediately. Symbolism in ‘Where There Is A Wall’ by Joy Kogawa
This poem contains quite a few meanings causing the reader to dig deeper to see the overall big picture Joy Kogawa was trying to convey. The wall in the poem symbolizes obstacles that people have to face in life. I think through using the wall, Kogawa was making a statement that, even though some things may seem impossible there is always a way to overcome them and reach your goal, just as one would overcome a wall to reach the other side.
Kogawa makes mention that there is a way around a wall such as a gate, ladder, door, or a sentinel. The gate, ladder, door and a sentinel symbolize a solution a person can have for an obstacle in order to reach your everyday goal in life, which in this poem the obstacle would be the wall and the goal would be to reach the other side.
Kogawa states that “…there are zeppelins, helicopters, rockets, bombs, bettering rams armies with trumpets, whose all at once blast, shatters the foundation…,” meaning that these are ways to destroy the wall. They symbolize a violent method to reaching your everyday goal of the other side of the wall. Kogawa implies that there is a more peaceful method in overcoming an obstacle outlined in the previous paragraph.
Kogawa uses personification when she states that “where there’s a wall, there are words, to whisper by a loose brick, wailing prayers…” giving the bricks the human quality of speech. When Kogawa mentions that “…special codes to tap, birds to carry messages taped to their feet, there are letters to be written, novels even” it symbolizes that people should learn about each other’s everyday goals and the obstacles that he/she faced to accomplish it. Teaching others about how to overcome his/her own obstacles to reach their goal.
Throughout the poem Joy Kogawa gives many suggestions on how to overcome an obstacle one is facing. I feel that this passage from the poem symbolizes that if one keeps hope, trust and faith in God that he will show him/her solutions to overcome their obstacle, and to never give up or to lose hope, “… I am standing staring at the top, lost in the clouds, I hear every sound you make, but cannot see you…”