Paradise Literary Elements



Setting and Context

Oklahoma, ranges from post-antebellum era to 1976

Narrator and Point of View

Third person omniscient, using the points of view of many characters

Tone and Mood

Suspenseful, mysterious, and magical

Protagonist and Antagonist

There are many of each, but Connie might be considered a principal protagonist, and Steward Morgan a principal antagonist

Major Conflict

Between the citizens of Ruby and the residents of the Convent


The raid on the Convent


The night of the raid on the Convent, the Oven begins to slide off its foundations (see "Symbols, Allegory, and Motifs" section for the symbolic meaning of the Oven).




- The names of Pallas and Seneca allude to classical figures: Pallas Athena, and Seneca, the Stoic philosopher.
- The men think of the Convent women in Biblical terms, alluding to Eve and Salomé.
- The citizens of Ruby think of the Disallowing in terms of the holy family’s rejection from the inn on the eve of the birth of Jesus.
- Gigi finds an etching in the Convent alluding to Saint Catherine of Siena.
- Richard Misner thinks about how the citizens of Ruby adhere to the philosophy of Booker T. Washington rather than the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois with regards to approaching race issues.


See "Imagery" section.


It is paradoxical that in founding Ruby as a haven from the color-based prejudice of the outside world, the settlers replicates that same prejudice, but in an inverse way.


“It was more proof that the old Mavis was dead. The one who couldn’t defend herself from an eleven-year-old girl, let alone her husband. The one who couldn’t figure out or manage a simple meal, who relied on delis and drive-throughs, now created crepe-like delicacies without shopping everyday” (171).

Metonymy and Synecdoche

“Be the Furrow of His Brow” is an example of synecdoche. The part, “His Brow,” is used to refer to the whole, God.


“The sky was behaving like a showgirl: exchanging its pale, melancholy mornings for sporty ribbons of color in the evening” (186).