Story Symbolism: “Blood” by Zdravka Evtimova

Blood - Literative

It is perhaps most interesting when upon reading a story, you’re filled with all sorts of thrilling questions. A rush through the spine, a crazy glimmer in your eyes. A good story, a fantastic story, can change a reader’s mood.

My Reaction To Zdravka Evtimona’s “Blood”

Upon reading Zdravka Evtimova‘s “Blood,” I had this exact reaction. I didn’t want it to end, all 4 1/2 pages of it. It was so short, I wanted to find Evtimova and ask her all these questions about the story. Where did the idea come from? What does it all mean? Why moles?

But alas, I could not.

Story Overview

“Blood” by Zdravka Evtimova is about a nameless character who runs a pet shop. Barely anyone ever came in and bought anything, until a strange lady, featuring mole-like tendencies, came in asking for the blood of a mole. She claimed 3 drops of this blood would cure her son’s unnamed illness. The pet shop owner didn’t have moles but felt bad that they couldn’t help the woman, so they slipped into the back room and slit their wrist. The shop owner gives their blood to the old woman, telling her that it is the blood of a mole. The old lady came back days later saying her son could walk again.

A few days later, a man comes in claiming that he needs three drops of mole’s blood so that he can save his dying wife. He took more blood from the pet shop owner’s wrist and left. Finally, the next day, a mob of people wait by the pet shop, all wanting mole’s blood, clutching little glass bottles and knives.

Story Symbolism Found in “Blood”

  1. Moles tolerate higher levels of carbon dioxide than other mammals. Their blood has a special protein, which explains why they can be underground for so long without suffocating from lack of oxygen. The fact that these characters wanted the mole’s blood is symbolic in and of itself, almost as if they needed to be able to survive underground. The pet shop itself is dark and damp, much like a tunnel that a mole would make underground. Whether these characters are moles or people is not clear, but the implication is there that they (at the very least) act as moles do.
  2. When the shop owner comes back with the vial of blood, the old woman notices that they had cut their own wrist; she sees the blood dripping from their arm. When the man comes back a few days later, he immediately goes for the same spot on the protagonist’s arm. This shows that he was aware of where to pull the blood from before going to the store. This indicates some kind of relationship between him and the old lady from days before. When it comes to the group of people demanding blood at the end of the story, readers can safely assume that this mob all have ties to the two original customers.
  3. Notice that the narrator is never named, nor assigned a gender. This indicates that the customers demanding this mole’s blood find them insignificant and disposable. We the readers know nothing about them and neither do the customers taking their blood. Their personal identity is not important, but what they produce and what they give to others is.

  4. Blood itself is symbolic in many cultures and religions. It’s something all creatures share. And while blood has different meanings to different people, there is one overarching theme: life. These characters all had someone in their life who was close to death. Blood is the only thing that can save them, further solidifying that there is this overwhelming connection between blood and living.

Moles aside, let’s think of something else that drinks blood to survive: vampires. Etimova describes the people coming into the pet shop as sickly, pale, and frail. In vampire stories, vampires are typically pale and sickly. They drink blood to survive, much like the people in the story. They need this life-giving liquid to feel better, just like the son and the man’s dying wife.

Maybe the symbolism of “Blood” does not lie in moles or vampires. Maybe the symbolism of “Blood” lies in the bloodthirsty mob demanding the blood of the shop owner. They found someone who will give them blood willingly and for free, and now they plan to use that to their advantage. We’ve all read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. If “Blood” by Zdravka Etimova were longer, would it have a similar ending? 

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