This study guide will help you analyze the short story “Kiss” by Elizabeth Baines. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it.

Presentation of the text

Title: “Kiss” (2019)
Author: Elizabeth Baines
Genre: Short story

Elizabeth Baines is a British author of short stories, novels, and radio plays. Her novels and short stories have received various awards and recognitions. “Kiss” appeared in the online publication  The Barcelona Review   as well as in the anthology  The Best British Short Stories 2019.


Below, you can read an extract from our study guide:


The kiss mentioned in the story (and included in its title) symbolizes how people can become connected through love. The kiss is seen as a gesture that can change the characters’ lives and also symbolizes the complex narratives that have led to this single important moment. 

However, when the young man with the backpack is ready to trigger the detonator, this gesture is also described like a kiss. The symbolism thus takes a darker turn, as this type of kiss can also have life-changing effects, but in a much more negative way.

The couple’s journey through the Tube symbolizes their own personal journey from a life of abuse, discrimination, or anger to resilience. In contrast, the young man with the backpack’s entrance into the Tube can be seen as a symbol of going to the ‘underground’, to a dark place where you are overwhelmed and defeated by hardships. The couple is described as “rising up out of the underground” while the young man with the background walks out from the “glittering day”. 


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