Paradise Imagery

Rose of Sharon

When Mavis first leaves her family, she drives to the house of a woman named 'Peg' whom she does not know well but who she believes would be sympathetic towards her. In the early morning, everything in the neighborhood is still, including the windmill and the ivy at Peg’s house. However, a rose of Sharon on the side of the house, older than the house itself, shakes wildly in the wind. It causes Mavis’ heart to race and suggests the way that she feels inside.

Snakes, Eve, and the Garden of Eden

The Convent women are often described in the consciousness of Ruby citizens with Biblical imagery recalling the Garden of Eden and Eve’s temptation by the devil incarnated as a serpent. The men think of them as “bodacious black Eves” (18). Lone reflects on the men’s conversation at the Oven that they have located “the fangs and the tail” of temptation “out yonder all slithery in a house full of women” (276).

Baptisms at the Oven

Soane vividly recalls the era when the Oven was used as part of baptisms. She remembers girls in “newly hallowed water, never letting go… their wet, white robes billow in sunlit water” (102). Beautiful sounds echoed off the holy water. In contrast to this image of total submersion and transcendence, baptisms in Ruby are now comparatively banal: Mount Calvary has built a pool inside, and New Zion and Holy Redeemer have “vessels for dribbling a little water on an upright head” (103). Consequently, the Oven no longer has much use.

Pallas bearing a sword

When Pallas reappears to her mother, she appears bearing a sword. This fulfills her name’s promise, as a reference to the Greek goddess Athena, and also generally suggests the way in which Pallas has transitioned from being a frightened young girl into a holy warrior.