The closet in the story is divided into three compartments, each characterized by its unique contents. Ribeyro (2003) wrote that in the leftmost part of the closet, “My father kept his suits there, as well as an English jacket h never wore” (p. 572). The image of the old British suit that the boy’s father never wore carries the symbolism of delayed happiness. The father did not wear his nice jacket because he always waited for a more suitable occasion, saving what he had and not taking pleasure in it.
The second compartment, where the door was closed, symbolizes the past instead of living in the past. Ribeyro (2003) “Maybe those papers and pictures you drag with You from youth and don’t tear up and throw out for fear of losing part of a life” (p. 573). This closet part hidden from the children’s eyes symbolizes how people desperately try to preserve specific fragments of their past while ignoring the present. The family father’s fixation on this closet and stories about his ancestors quickly ended only when the closet mirror broke. The closet in this story also takes the place of these old records, which the man desperately tries to preserve to remember constantly.
Finally, the mirror also has a significant symbolic meaning. A mirror is usually considered a person’s reflection in the present moment. It symbolizes the present moment and shows the man from the outside. Still, the story’s author notes that the father of the family is much more interested in thinking about the fact that his ancestors were looking in that mirror. In this case, the symbolism of the mirror is the idea that even when one looks at his present self, one thinks about the past.
Ribeyro, J. R., & Penuel, J. (2003). The Wardrobe, Forefathers, and Death. The Antioch Review, 572-576. Web.