Prep Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Prep Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Ms Moray's Silver Pin

Ms Moray is Lee's sophomore English teacher. While she is well-meaning and clearly passionate about her job, she is inexperienced and makes a number of mistakes that haunt Lee for the rest of her life. Like Lee, she comes from an unassuming Midwestern background, and does not fit in well in the elitist and class-conscious world of Ault.

Ms Moray wears a silver pin in the shape of an open book, and this pin comes to represent her in Lee's memory. The pin is a symbol of Ms Moray's inexperience and her status as an outsider. Lee, Aspeth and Dede make fun of it in a note they pass between themselves during one of her classes, mocking her old-womanish sense of style. Lee thinks that pins are more appropriate for women in their thirties or forties, and therefore assumes that Ms Moray must have received it as a gift from a parent or mentor. It only occurs to her later, when Lee is herself an adult, that Ms Moray probably bought the pin for herself, to mark the beginning of a strange and intimidating new chapter in her life. Like most other things about Ms Moray, the pin makes sense to Lee only in retrospect.

Sin-Jun's Bicycle

Lee borrows Sin-Jun's bicycle to teach Conchita how to ride. The bicycle represents the fleeting friendship between the two girls, and foreshadows their parting. Conchita is a very sheltered girl, and Lee remarks several times on how young she seems. She is so sheltered that at fourteen, she still doesn't know how to ride a bike. Lee offers to give her lessons, and Conchita's gradual improvement mirrors the blossoming of the two girls' friendship. During their last riding lesson, on the very night that Conchita kills Lee, Conchita succeeds in riding Sin-Jun's bike by herself for the first time. This victory represents the apex of their friendship (Lee says that this is the only memory of their time together that does not turn sour), but Conchita sailing away from Lee is also a powerful visual metaphor for their imminent separation. This is an interesting example of a foreshadowing that is also an echo, since it occurs chronologically before Lee and Conchita part ways, but in the narrative it is related as an afterthought.

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