Ware defines the term symbol as “something that represents something else, esp. common in bad literature. Also, a printed or written sigh used to represent an understood corresponding aspect of experience, generally read, and not appreciated as an esthetic for in and of itself.” Notable leitmotifs in Jimmy Corrigan include a robot, a bird, a peach, a miniature horse, and a flawed superhero are each important representations of a deeper meaning. Of these reoccurring symbols throughout the novel, the image that really seemed to stand out on the pages was Superman.
Jimmy Corrigan is a boy with a serious over reactive imagination and awkward personality. These traits stem from his failed family life, being extremely uncomfortable and shell shocked when it comes to forming friendships or relationships, and finally he fears being rejected or dislike which causes him from properly developing social skills. We first see the form of Superman while Jimmy is a small boy eager to meet a flawless and skilled male role model. Of course, this goes to shambles when the man behind the mask picks up his mother for a one night stand. In Jimmy's innocence he doesn't recognize the morning after awkwardness for what it was or how passing on the message "he had a real good time" could possibly affect his mother. The next time Jimmy encounters a real life Superman is when he watches someone jumps to their death. This keeps unsettling him as he sees reminders in newspapers and causes distress to follow him into his fantasies. To balance the awkwardness Jimmy feels upon meeting his father again, he tries fantasizing that fate brought this meeting together. In his dream he is tucking in his son at bedtime, relating how his visit to his father eventually led to meeting the mother of the child. Their intimate moment is broken by the appearance of a small toy like figure of superman at the windowsill. Superman then turns into a giant that destroys the house along with Jimmy's "son".
The representation of Superman seems to be acting as a warning for horrible things to come. Jimmy had so many wonderful dreams as a kid of how Superman was the greatest hero/ideal to look up to on face of the earth. He considered Superman a father figure since he never was able to have a relationship with his real father. He imaged that if his father, if he ever met him, would just be like his idol; but little did he know that fantasy was untrue. The image of Superman throughout the novel didn’t represent hope and a father figure to look up too; it symbolized the original Superman at the beginning of the novel, the man who didn't stick around. We can make the connection that Jimmy’s dream Superman is contradicted to the Superman that he encountered in real life. So in all, not only does Superman symbolize hopelessness and despair but it instills disappointment from ever fantasizing about high aspirations in life.