Behind the Flowing Script: An Interpretation of the Symbols and Images in Penmanship

Essay by survivorjeriCollege, Undergraduate March 2005

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I have always believed that one can infer (and at times, quite correctly too) about another's personality by merely looking at, and analyzing that person's handwriting. I do not mean to generalize, but the fact of the matter is, sometimes, it is true. People who tend to write with such furious speed and haste, with unkempt all-capital letters are normally just that, people who live fast-paced lives, are impatient and disorderly. People who use script with lots and lots of loops and squiggles can be deduced to be as what Filipinos would be likely to call, maarte people. Never have I associated, though, in eighteen years of existence on this Earth, that such symbolisms and interpretations can be found in one's penmanship (and pen), as Jose Dalisay has put in his story. In a story in which the central character is named the "penman," clearly, his writing instrument and penmanship are sure to play a role in the story, and Dalisay certainly did not come up with a shortage of images and symbolisms which they take in the story.

To begin with, the brown-striped, gold-nibbed 1934 Parker Vacumatic fountain pen, for the "penman," in the literal sense, symbolizes his old life, "all that was gone, but for the pen- his parents, the family wealth, the breezy mornings perfumed by hot chocolate and talcum powder." It was an old family heirloom, which belonged to his grandfather and was passed on to his father who had given it to the "penman" as a gift for graduating from High School. It is a reminder, for him, of the past, his past of wealth and material possession.

On a deeper level, the pen could also symbolize the things which the penman cannot say and express directly to people. He uses the pen, and his...