Can you structure how is symbolism used throughout a book? I am wondering if there are patterns that are used to structure symbolism in a scene, throughout a book, in a single frame, etc. For example, you have three symbols in a picture, movie shot, or comic frame, and you arrange them in a triangle. This would be a very basic example. Do authors purposely use certain patterns to structure symbolism and to what effect? What can you do with this?
There's a very good discussion of this in Jane Alison's book, Meander, Spiral, Explode.
Reviews here and here. She has written an extended article entitled Beyond Freytag’s Triangle: Two Novels Resisting the Narrative Arc which remarks on the 'insistent repetition' in Jamaica Kincaid’s Mr. Potter and the 'circling', 'pinwheeling', fractured, scattered structural approach Mary Robison takes in Why Did I Ever here.
In Meander, Spiral, Explode, she specifically talks about how symbols work to create a compelling almost palindromic structure in Philip Roth's Goodbye Columbus (pp 74–83).
A similar pattern features in Edgar Allen Poe's The Purloined Letter analysed insightfully in Kunze, D. (2018), 'Triplicity in Spencer-Brown, Lacan, and Poe', in G. B. Thakur, & J. M. Dickstein (Eds.), Lacan and the Nonhuman (pp. 157–176). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
Spiral is a great picture here. (though fractals would be more accurate) I've always been taught to know your theme and stick to it. Draw a pinwheel spiral, just around and around and around. Now this is the whole universe of the story. Each loop is another layer of theme. Symbolism is a way for the character to Interact with the theme. Whether they know it or not, it could be in how they take in their surroundings, how they interact with it or other characters, how they are interacted with. Micro small normal large cosmic levels all saying the same thing in their own way as the character follows their path, however chaotic or mellow it might be.
Know your theme, keep it simple, and let it show up everywhere it can.