Various uses of the word ‘Shoe’

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Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・English ・MLA ・1 Sources

The word that will be the subject of this paper is ‘shoe,' as determined by the reading. The term 'shoe' refers to a worn outer covering for the human foot, usually made of leather (but also of other materials) and consisting of a rigid sole and a lighter upper portion. In a more basic context, distinguishable from boots (OED pg 420). They are an essential part of human culture, and much has been learned from their traditional use. There are many interpretations and meanings based on which they are applied in various life situations to convey a specific message. Following the reading of the book excerpt; A Husband and Father by Maria Hummel, we notice several uses of this word as demonstrated below.

Firstly, reference is made to the text where Ani had been given a good pair of leather shoes; neither the typical wooden clogs many other kids wore, nor the shabby paper sandals of the impoverished families, but shoes that smelled of hiding on the days before the war. The first connotation of this word is good leather shoes; it means to wear out one's shoes by wearing them, to live life and if so a pair of shoe be good leather, it implies that that life is still inexperienced and has not been worn out. In the context, Ani, a character in the novel is viewed as less experienced on the realities of life. Hence the father was appealing to him to expose himself to that new reality since he had to leave him; for had he (Ani) been otherwise experienced then the wordings would have probably been; an old, wrinkled pair of leather shoes. The next phrase exemplifies this by depicting that His shoes were unlike those of the others which were wooden clogs, a connotation of worn out or rather matured ‘broken in' life experiences.

Another connotation of the word; shoe applying to this text but also to the entire novel excerpt context is the call to take up responsibilities as a mature adult. Wearing of shoes is indicative of one knowing what is expected of them, accepting it and implementing or living it. Ani and Hans the characters to which this context is used are being called upon by the father to be of age to take up the responsibilities of heading the household. Their father recounts to them how he had to fit in shoes and take up responsibilities from his father; who was six years old when his father left to serve our country where he had to be the man around by then, understand?". He encourages them that they too will make it in their new responsibilities just as he (his father) had to at a tender age. For fitting into one's shoes is a connotation to mean mature up.

In the same breath, the same word has been used to denote the need to empathize with the other person. Fitting into one's shoes is a saying applied to emphasize the need for others to understand the feelings, or situations in life that people go through, their hardships and the challenges that shape how they react or who there are in their current status. In this excerpt, this word is used to call upon Ani and the brother Hans to place themselves in their father's shoes and understand two realities; that he has to leave them since it was a military deployment and he had to obey. He wanted them to see the fact that he had no ability to decline the order to leave and had to avail himself for the new mission far of from them. Secondly, he also wanted them to understand that he too had the same experience and that it was hard for him to leave them. He wished if only they empathized with his pain of leaving them and not perceive him abandoning them but as he had to go to work.

Another implication of this word is; the shoe is on the other foot, or the shoe is on another person's foot. This means that a given situation has changed from what it was prior; that there is a shift of times, from the old to the new. Regarding this except, this would mean that the previous situation where Ani and Han's father used to available for them had now changed and that they would have to move on without him. The transfer of a shoe from one foot to the other means the transfer of responsibilities, and as mentioned, a change of situations and in this sense the shoe was being moved from their father's foot to their own. As illustrated previously, they were to take over the ranks. Hence the other phrase in the same excerpt:" The shoes' former owner had cracked a few wrinkles in the leather uppers," to allude to the father as the previous owner and the eldest child (Ani) as the new owner. Similarly, the alluding of wrinkled shoes represented a past time before the war, but the good leather shoes elude to a new time; during the war that circumstances had changed and matters too had to change.

Moreover, another meaning of the same word is making reference to the good leather shoes as training shoes. Ani's father recounts to him how he used to play on rocky surfaces, climb trees and how those shoes represented a time before the wars; "when schoolboys kicked real footballs into real nets." Alluding to this pair as training shoes meant that these new passed on responsibilities were to be the training ground fro Ani into maturity. Even though He was to go through hard times (walking on jagged edges), he would still find reprieve. And as expressed by the father: ‘balance atop a stone wall and hop from one garden to another"; to illustrate that he will conquer those tough times just as a trainer does. In essence, he depicted to Ani that this new situation would train him for the better.

Finally having explored the various meanings, connotations, and implications of the word shoe, it is noticeable that a word cannot have a single meaning. Words express their meaning depending on the contexts they have been applied to and to be limited to one definition of it is to limit one from the possible interpretations and wisdom that they would carry. Secondly, words have power. Their power is not in their strict dictionary definition but on how they can alter the entire meaning of phrases to which they are introduced. Words used differently imply differently, and this syntax power is indeed laudable.

Works Cited

Dictionary, Oxford English. "Oxford English Dictionary." The Library (2002).

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