Parker and his spouse Sarah Ruth both sit in front of their lonely rented residence on the high embankments that face the highway. The house is in an open environment the place only one tall pecan tree is visible in the vicinity. At intervals, cars skip by on the highway. Their site disgusts Sarah.
Parker is portrayed as a womanizer. He has had many other women with whom he only cares about casual sexual relationships. We also see him as a man who is upset since he keeps losing the appeal of the tattoos he already had and wants new ones he is also self-centered, only questioning on how to get more tattoos to his body. Sarah on the other hand is a dull, conservative and withdrawn woman. She is cold and Parker keeps wondering why he had to marry her. Parker’s mother is caring and still believes her son can change for the better. She even tries to take him to church for prayers.
The tattoos on Parker’s body bring out a greater use of symbolism. The eagle tattooed on his arm is a show of courage and a desire to explore and grow. He got this desire after watching a tattooed man perform on stage. “Parker had never before felt the least motion of wonder in himself. Until he saw the man at the fair…. It was as if a blind boy had been turned so gently in a different direction that he did not know his destination had been changed.” The tattoo of a wounded heart indicates his love sickness. “In the space between the eagle and the serpent, there were hearts, some pierced with arrows.” The panther and the tiger appearing on the shoulders are a symbol of power, valor, and the rage in him. A tiger symbolizes the beasts in Parker. These animals also symbolize the rage within him. “it was as if the panther and the lion and the serpent and the eagle and the hawks had penetrated his skin and lived inside him in a raging warfare.” This is in relation to Parker’s internal conflict on which tattoo to design and where on his body to design it.
Parker’s obsession has set him on a road less travelled and he would stop at anything to have his body covered in tattoos. His wife’s advice and condemnation does little to stop him.
Werness, H. B. (2003). Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in World Art. New York: The Continum International Publishing Group Inc.