"In the Heat of the Night" by John Ball - Symbols and Imagery Notes

Essay by AnonymousJunior High, 9th gradeA, December 2006

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The symbols in "In the Heat of the Night" are heat, night, wallet, murder weapon and the colours black and white. The strongest and most significant symbols are heat and night. The heat represents the features of anxiety, nervousness, and tension. It also suggests to the overall mood of characters. The heat has been repeated several times in the duration of the novel. This symbol is showcased on page one, stating "The heat of the Carolinas in August hung thick and heavy in the air." On page two saying, "No coffee for me, Ralph. The heat is too unbearable." I believe that "heat" combined with "night", enhances the feelings of suspense in this novel. Heat is also a symbol of rage and hatred as Mr. Mantoli was murdered during a time of great heat.

The night is closely related to heat. As stated before, "heat" and "night" are used in a combination to enhance feelings of suspense.

However, "night" itself represents fear and death because it is in humans to be afraid of the dark (unknown). It is used to represent suspicion at night, and that anything can happen at anytime without any body expecting it. Enrico Mantoli's death is a perfect example because it occurred at night. These two symbols have symbolic meanings to help the reader understand the theme and the messages of the author.

The wallet is significant to the outlook of the story because the wallet represents money. Money is a representation of desperation and the harmful effects caused by it. During this novel, money makes people do dangerous actions without considering the consequences. For example, as explained on page 178, to pay for Delores' abortion, Ralph attacked and killed Mr. Mantoli for his money. Ralph's shortage of money suggests his desperation and frustration...