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Written by Jody Perry
Symbol : Blue Paint
When Tom's wife Rachel was pregnant he bought her a different color oil paint for each month of her pregnancy. When she realized that she was not going to survive after giving birth, she told Tom he would have to but the blue paint for himself to represent the birth. To Tom, the pot of blue paint symbolizes the death of his wife and child as neither was there to share in the paint buying ritual with him.
Symbol : Zach's Belongings
After Zach is killed, his friends struggle to come to terms with his death, especially Willie, who cannot even look at anything Zach used to own. Eventually he realizes that having Zach's belongings symbolizes Zach himself; each of Zach's friends wear a couple of his garments which makes them feel very reassured and also feels as though he is still with them.
Symbol : The Belt
Willie's mother beats him with a heavy leather belt and even sends it to Tom with Willie's meager possessions. The belt is never used again but symbolizes the brutal physical punishment Willie has left behind and also the difference in the way that his mother and Tom choose to provide discipline. The belt is also a symbol that shows Tom how badly treated Willie was and makes him suspicious when Willie is back in London but nobody has heard from him.
Motif : The Dark
Throughout the book, the dark is a constant motif. The Warden is always fastidious about the whole village having their window blacks up to make the village completely dark. Many of the children's main adventures occur in the dark, such as the visit to Spooky Cott, and as usual the dark is not nearly as frightening in reality as in their imagination, for example when the scary presence inside the seemingly haunted house turns out to be a soldier who returned from the war horribly injured. The dark is also a constant motif when it comes to Willie's return to his mother; she keeps him locked in the dark in a tiny crawl space and it is also during a period of darkness that Tom arrives to save him.
Symbol : Zach's Judaism
Willie's mother believes that everyone who does not go to church is inherently evil so when Willie discovers that Zach is Jewish he imagines red horns growing from his friend's head symbolizing this.
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Zach represents all of the things William wishes to be. He truly admires his zest for life and appreciates his friendship. William cherishes Zach's ability to live life large and is devastated when he dies.