It’s 12:30 am and I’m emotionally compromised by the book and by outside factors but mainly by the book. But here’s something that came together in my head without really properly coming together: the theme in this book of talismans, or maybe just of of small enchanted objects.

There’s the mom carrying the key, there’s the stone and the Swiss army knife the boy keeps in his pocket, and then there’s the telegram that the dad sends at the end of the story, which the mom carries with her everywhere. And just like with the key, she checks if it’s there.

Here’s a thought, the most connected my thoughts will get: maybe it’s about having something to tie you back to reality. Because that’s another theme in this book, the constant having to check where you are, whether this is real. Because there are mirages in this book, like we talked about on Wednesday. But now, especially now towards the end, every member of the family has to come to terms with reality and to check it before themselves constantly, to see evidence of it.

So maybe the talismans are about that. About having just a small piece of evidence that the world can turn out, if not fine, just a little bit better than your worst fear of it. Or maybe there’s something else in there too that I’m not thinking about. Did I miss any? Does anyone else have thoughts on any of this?

Thinking about talismans

2 thoughts on “Thinking about talismans

  • October 4, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Interesting. I will be having Floor Time because of the book. My carpet is cozy, please join me for emotional rehabilation. I love this idea. It seems to me that having these things, holding onto them, is it hope? Or have they suffered so much trauma and are so disconnected from reality that they cannot trust themselves to exist in the world without something tangible to assure them they are alive. God, that messes me up. Is it weird to think of “Inception” in relation to this? The spinning top to verify if it is reality or a dream, except this is entirely more devastating because this is their reality. No one is dreaming, they are truly living this and suffering. Maybe it is more of tenacity than it is hope. They are clinging to anything they can, the mother is rereading the same ten or so words over and over to make sure they don’t change. The family has nothing left inside of them to push forward, so anything, a letter, a key, anything from the outside will be stronger than anything the family can gather from themselves. This is me trying to articulate why I don’t think there’s any hope left at the story. I don’t know why except for the fact that I’m left empty! Floor Time

  • October 4, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    Ohhh, the question of hope or no hope. I really hope we talk about this in class, uh, fifteen minutes from now. But once more, as with Kingston, I don’t know if I can articulate it, but…. ‘no hope’ sounds wrong, but ‘hope’ sounds wrong too.

    I read your comment, and I had the gut reaction of disagreement with it followed by ‘no, but saying there is hope is too simple’, and I think I circled back around to Ichiro, who we end on chasing “that faint and elusive insinuation of promise as it continued to take shape in mind and heart.” That’s definitely a more hopeful ending than When The Emperor Was Divine, but it can’t be called pure hope either. Something somewhat removed from hope. f¹(hope), maybe? The first derivative of hope?

    Anyway. If there is any hope, or f¹(hope) even, left at the end of the book, I think it’s with the children wandering around looking for their rosebush. That’s a hope they don’t fulfill, but it’s a continued ability to imagine justice. And justice is an extensive road, but maybe one they’ll get to see the beginnings of?

    But then I think about the dad, and… you’re right, Carleigh. Floor Time.

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