A while ago, I came across across an article on Mental Floss (fairly old news now) about how a teenage Bruce McAllister sent letters to famous authors in 1963 to ask whether they consciously (or subconsciously) placed symbolism into their writing and other related questions. The answers varied a bit, some are pretty funny on their own and others are hilarious given the contrast between the authors’ responses. Then, there’s also some useful information.
Back in my K–12 years, I had thoughts similar to McAllister’s about symbolism in my reading assignments at school. One recurring thought I had was, “This is horse crap” (well, not those exact words). It wasn’t that I thought authors never intended certain symbols, or that they never created symbols by accident. I assumed that happened quite often. However, I remember my teacher(s) trying to sell me very vague and unlikely symbols (I also recall pulling symbols out of my ass and my teacher(s) agreeing with me about it). So, like McAllister, I wondered about whether these authors intended all the symbols that academics draw from their work.