The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife Imagery

Gavo's Appearance

When Gavo first surfaces in the narrative, he is described by Natalia's grandfather as "young, thirty at most, and he has a fine head of dark hair and a pleased expression on his face" (Page 63). Gavo remains both perpetually young and perpetually pleasant as the narrative moves along. Despite his larger-than-life role, his appearance and expressions can even come off as unremarkable. When Gavo appears in Sarobor, for instance, Natalia's grandfather simply assumes that he is a well-dressed younger man reading a newspaper.

The Traces of the Tiger

Obreht's narration gives great attention both to the physical attributes of the tiger and to the more indirect signs of the tiger's presence. For instance, the tiger leaves "Big, round, springy footprints, the even, loping prints of a cat" (Page 117) in the snow around Galina. Villagers also discover animal carcasses that indicate the tiger's continuing presence and destructive power. This focus on clues and remnants when depicting the tiger is highly appropriate to Obreht's novel as a whole; after all, The Tiger's Wife is a story about using traces to piece the past together.

The Hall of Mirrors

As a young boy, Darisa visits the Hall of Mirrors at a local attraction, the Winter Palace, and finds himself greatly disoriented: "Coming around invisible corners, you would occasionally encounter a painted oasis, or a mounted peacock in what appeared to be the distance, but was, in reality, somewhere behind you" (Page 247). This focus on Darisa's moment-to-moment perceptions is a very different approach from that taken by most people who describe Darisa, and who make him the subject of broad and inaccurate legends. In Darisa's reputation, as in the Hall of Mirrors itself, things are not always what they seem.

The Tiger's Abode

On the final page of The Tiger's Wife, Natalia envisions the part of the Galina wilderness where, in a sense, her grandfather's tiger lives on: "There is, however, and always has been, a place in Galina where the trees are thin, a wide space where the saplings have twisted away and light falls broken and dappled on the snow" (Page 338). After all that has passed, the tiger would be at peace in such surroundings. The tiger itself is imagined as an immortal and unchanging figure, and is at home in a place that is just as static and mythic, a stretch of forest "where the winter does not go away" (Page 338).