Uglies (The Uglies)

Uglies (The Uglies) Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Heart-Shaped Pendant (Symbol)

The heart-shaped pendant is a tool that Dr. Cable gives Tally to signal to the Specials that she has arrived in the Smoke. To Tally, it symbolizes her central dilemma: whether to betray the location of the Smoke or stay ugly forever. The pendant hangs around her neck like an albatross, a constant reminder that she is an infiltrator of the Smoke and not a member. She is set apart by it; whenever Tally begins to enjoy herself, she remembers that she is still wearing the heart-shaped pendant, and thus her terrible task is yet to be completed. That the locket is heart-shaped indicates the emotionality of this decision for Tally.

White Tiger Orchids (Symbol)

The white tiger orchids symbolize the oppressive autocratic government and conformist mentality under which Tally lives. These orchids, once considered rare, were genetically altered by a Rusty looking to meet consumer demand, who failed to realize that these alterations would effectively turn the precious orchids into weeds that snuff out all surrounding plant life, including the trees where the species of hummingbird that propagate the flower's seeds lives. The orchids have created a monoculture, or an ecosystem consisting of a single plant that crowds out all other life and eventually renders the soil barren. This phenomenon echos the plight of Tally's society—her government's insistence on a plastic surgery that makes everyone look the same tramples diversity of appearance and thought. Though her culture may look beautiful from the outside, it is slowly killing off any hope of heterogeneity.

Hoverboards (Motif)

The motif of hoverboards help to illuminate the themes of maturity and of technology in Uglies. At the start of the novel, hoverboards are characterized as a toy for littlies and uglies, much like a skateboard. That same toy transforms into a tool for escape later in the book, as first Shay and then Tally use hoverboards to make the journey to the Smoke. In the Smoke, hoverboards are the main method of transportation; Shay, David, Croy, and Tally scavenge metal to build new hoverboard tracks around the settlement, like railways. By the end, hoverboards are associated with rebellion; while the Specials use hovercars, rebels prefer a more agile form of transport. Indeed, David and Tally use hoverboards to rescue the prisoners from the Specials' clutches.

Rusty Ruins (Symbol)

The Rusty Ruins symbolize the fragility of civilization. The ruins used to be a thriving epicenter of Rusty civilization, but once the petroleum they all depended on was mistakenly transformed into phosphorous, it only took exposure to air for the substance to ignite and the city to go up in flames. Just as Rusty civilization was overdependent on oil, so too is Tally's society overdependent on technology. The ruins stand as a reminder that all civilizations have a fatal weakness.

Scarred Hand (Symbol)

The scar on Tally's hand symbolizes her friendship with Peris, and the pledge of loyalty they made to one another. As such, when Peris' scar is erased during the operation, Tally feels as though she has lost her connection to him. Her best friend has become a stranger. Tally's scar remains; she cannot forget Peris, nor the promise she made to him that she would become pretty at all costs, so they could be together again.