This study guide will help you analyze the short story “Going Home” (1970) by Pete Hamill. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.
Pete Hamill (1935-2020) was an American journalist and author born into a family of Irish immigrants. As a journalist, he specialized in war reports. As a fiction writer, he mainly dealt with themes associated with urban life.
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The yellow handkerchiefs are the most important symbol in the story. According to Vingo’s deal with his wife, the handkerchief is meant to show him whether he is wanted home or not, after spending four years in prison (p. 10, ll. 12-15). When Vingo notices dozens of yellow handkerchiefs on the tree at the entrance of Brunswick, he probably understands that they symbolize his wife’s love and forgiveness. Her choice of placing dozens of handkerchiefs on the tree instead of just one shows that she loves him and that he is more than welcome home.
The tree at the entrance of Brunswick is symbolic of the wife’s resilience and perseverance. The tree itself symbolizes endurance and permanence, just like the wife’s love for Vingo. Together with the yellow handkerchiefs, the tree ...