The Hunting Bag
After the boy's father is arrested and Sounder is gone, the hunting bag is a reminder of their absence. Simply looking at the bag makes the boy lonely, and it makes him long for the days when his father and Sounder used to go hunting, even if they used to come back empty-handed. The empty bag hanging on the post represents loss and emptiness. Once Sounder and his father return, the bag symbolizes what they used to be able to do and what they used to have. When Sounder and his father die, the bag is a reminder of them both; while at the same time, the bag underscores the fact that unlike his father, the boy does not hunt, but instead is concentrating on education.
The boy is injured while staring at a group of convicts. He is holding onto a fence, and the guard smashes his fingers with a piece of iron. The fence is symbolic of the distance between the boy and his father, and it is also symbolic of the many gaps that the boy cannot seem to transcend—he cannot get close to his father, he cannot quite learn how to read, and he cannot quell the loneliness that torments him. The fence is representative of the fact that the boy is in many ways an outsider.