Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Symbolic birth

In the first chapter, Jasper visits Charlie and tells him to follow him in the dark of the night. To get out of the house unnoticed, Charlie gets out through the small window in his room. Charlie’s escape from his room is a symbolic birth and marks the beginning of a new period for him and his advancement into adulthood.

Heat/Burning (motif)

Heat follows Charlie through his summer in Corrigan. Although the heat is a natural element of summer in Australia, Charlie seems most bothered by it at times of emotional distress. When the boys touch Laura's hanging body, they notice that it is still warm with evidence of life. That sensation of heat, which connects it to both life and death, distorts Charlie's perception of his town. It comes to take on a meaning beyond its literal reality, demonstrated in the following passage: "I give a short, involuntary shrug, feeling the heat of Laura's truth and the coldness of my lie" (110).

Cigarette (symbol)

Jasper's cigarettes are a symbol of his maturity and his masculinity. When he offers one to Charlie, Charlie feels as though he must pretend to consider accepting one even though he has never smoked before in his life. When Charlie does finally accept a cigarette, it is a turning point in his relationship to himself, even though he doesn't know how to smoke the cigarette and hates the experience. Charlie experiences smoking a cigarette without becoming a smoker, which is an important message about experimentation and responsibility.

Water (motif)

In conversation with the motif of heat is a motif of water, which many times soothes the emotional heat Charlie is feeling. When the boys throw Laura into the dam with a rock attached to her foot, they are ensuring that her body will never be found again. They are also ensuring that the heat of life that Charlie noticed moments before would be forever extinguished. After that experience, Charlie goes home and experiences healing properties from his bath, where he is able to face what has happened while still not letting himself cry. Later, Charlie considers the healing properties of rain: "The notion of rain seems incredibly inviting to me right now. A huge cold shower, harsh and bracing" (49).

Wasp (symbol)

Charlie is so afraid of wasps that he transfers this specific fear onto all other kinds of bugs. This fear of wasps allows for a physical culprit for the fear that he feels in a number of different situations in the novel. The wasp is a symbol of an uncontrollable object that might eventually cause him pain. His fear of wasps shapes his actions on a number of occasions, as when he leaves his house due to fear of a wasp in his room, and when he refuses to retrieve the cricket ball from An Lu's garden. It is a real-world example of the cowardice that he condemns so strongly in himself, which is why it is so significant when Charlie is able to face the bees on the fermented peaches in Jack Lionel's front yard.