Katherine Paterson's "Jacob Have I Loved"

1450 Words6 Pages
Katherine Paterson’s vivid use of imagery and symbolism brings alive the theme of overcoming the complexities of sibling rivalry in order to reclaim one’s life in “Jacob Have I Loved”. A stunning update of the classic Bible story of Jacob and Esau, Paterson recasts the brothers with sisters coming of age on the isolated island of Rass during World War II. The elder twin by mere minutes, Louise Bradshaw, finds her life immediately overshadowed by the dramatic birth of her twin sister, Caroline (Paterson 16). Caroline’s near-death experience gains the focus of not only their mother and father, but also their cantankerous grandmother (Paterson18-20). This trend continues when the residents of the small island are quickly enchanted by Caroline’s stunning voice and angelic looks (Paterson 20, 22-24). Meanwhile Louise’s tomboy behavior, independent thinking and strong demeanor does not endear her to the community (Paterson 29-31) and she struggles to keep her best friend Call and a mysterious stranger named the Captain from Caroline’s ever-growing influence (Paterson113-114). Never able to reclaim the spotlight, Louise struggles as she realizes the woman she should be is not necessarily not only what others, but especially herself, expected. Denied repeatedly by her family and friends in favor of Caroline, Louise finally finds herself once her sister leaves, taking with her what was Louise’s seemingly one chance at freedom. The novel opens with the imagery and symbolism that is essential effectively telling the story. A grown Louise imagines the ferry ride to Rass Island she will soon take to pick up her newly widowed mother. The only way on and off the island, the ferry represents more than transportation, it is a lifeline between ... ... middle of paper ... ...n detail. With the stories progression, the reader discovers that the main characters are symbolic of those in the original Bible story and are able to identify Louise as Esau and Caroline as Jacob. Paterson’s audience makes these vital connection, clues are being given that the Captain is an earthly representation of God in the story. Meanwhile, the birthright that divides Esau and Jacob is represented in the scholarship opportunity that Louise loses to her younger twin, Caroline. With Paterson’s use of imagery, symbolism, and symbolic characters, “Jacob Have I Loved” is powerfully told and creates a tale that lingers with the reader. Works Cited Paterson, Katherine. Jacob Have I Loved. New York: Scholastic, 1990. Print. Youthwalk Devotional Bible, New International Version. Ed. Dr. Bruce H. Wilkinson et al. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997. Print.
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