Harriet the Spy

Harriet the Spy Imagery

Mrs. Golly

"The fat lady stood like a mountain, her hands on her hips, in a flowered cotton print dress and enormous hanging coat sweater... and her shoes were a wonder. Long, long, black bumpy things with high, laced sides up to the middle of the shin, bulging with the effort of holding in those ankles, their laces splitting them into grins against the white of the socks below." Chapter 1, p. 18

Harriet is astounded when she first catches sight of Mrs. Golly, because this large, unkempt woman is like no person she has ever seen before. Though Harriet is perplexed, Ole Golly has always instructed her to pay close attention to people whose lifestyles are different than hers, so Harriet takes in every detail of Mrs. Golly as she observes her for the first time.

Janie's lab

"The lab itself was very complex and frightened Harriet whenever she looked at it, although she never would have admitted this to Janie. It consisted of rows and rows of shelves filled with bottles, all filled with suspicious fluids and looking as though you would turn into Mr. Hyde if you drank them." (Chapter 4, p. 63)

This moment comes when Harriet stops by Janie's house after her spy route. A reader can come to understand a lot about a character by examining the spaces they spend time in, and Janie's lab says more about her passions and interests than anything else. Like Harriet's, Janie's hobby is not something that is considered traditionally feminine, and characters that defy stereotypes are some of the things that make Harriet the Spy such a popular, interesting novel.

Building the clubhouse

"Everyone was rushing around with tools and wood and there was the semblance of a house emerging right in front of her. It leaned, of course. In fact the two back walls were the corner of the fence and it appeared to be pulling the fence down; but, never mind, it was a house." (Chapter 11, p. 171)

Sure that her classmates are conspiring against her in some way, Harriet sneaks over fences and through gardens to spy on the process that is unfolding at Rachel Hennessey's house. She is surprised and suspicious when she sees that her classmates are all building a house; while she does not yet know what it is for, she knows it is part of the plan to get back at her, and she is determined to halt their efforts.

The final reconciliation

"When they reached her they just stood there in front of her, each looking in a different direction. The wind was terribly cold. Harriet looked at their feet. They looked at her feet. Then they looked at their own feet." (Chapter 16, p. 237)

This passage on the last page of the novel is entirely imagery. Not once does Fitzhugh state what Harriet, Sport, and Janie are feeling, though this is a tense, emotionally-charged moment as they sit on the brink of being friends again. Instead, she uses their body language to illustrate their discomfort. It is clear that all three forgive each other for the wrongs that were done, though no words are spoken between them.