Superheroes are a common motif throughout the memoir, as Dave constantly redefines his perception of the people around him. At first, he believes his father will be his superhero, and will eventually save him from his abusive mother. Soon, though, he learns that he will have to be his own Superman, with enough strength to rescue himself. Eventually, he becomes a superhero for his own son, giving him the support he never got from his own father.
The Driftwood (Symbol)
In the memoir's epilogue, Dave watches a piece of driftwood being pulled in and out by the ocean waves. This piece of wood is a symbol for his own childhood, spent trying to fight against forces that pulled him back–fighting until he eventually made it to the shore.
The Russian River (Symbol)
The Russian River is a symbol of Dave's childhood innocence and happiness. It was a place where he truly enjoyed himself, where he made happy memories during what he calls the "good times." Even though his mother corrupts this place for him when they return to it
during his abuse, it never truly loses its meaning for him, which is confirmed when he tells his son that it still is his favorite place in the world.
God and Faith (Motif)
Towards the end of the book, the idea of God, prayer, and faith becomes a recurring motif. As Dave grows more desperate and his mother continues to abuse him, he begins to think about his own spirituality. He says he believes that there is no God, because God would never allow him to live this way. Even so, though, he prays as they drive away from the motel where they drop his father off, showing that he has not abandoned faith completely.
In the early days of his abuse, school is a sanctuary for Dave, a powerful symbol of safety where he can escape his terrible home life. It is also a place where he can get food when he is starving. Later on, school stops representing safety and starts representing a continuation of his home life, when his classmates begin to beat him up as well and his teachers neglect to do anything about his abuse.
A Child Called “It” Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for A Child Called “It” is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.