At the beginning of And the Mountains Echoed, Abdullah finds a small yellow feather. Although his sister Pari (who collects feathers) has recently been adopted by another family, the Wahdatis, Abdullah still decides to keep the feather. In one sense, he does this because he loves his sister, and wants to give her the feather later. But in a more profound sense, Abdullah keeps the feather because he wants to remember his sister. Decades later, after Abdullah has succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease and can barely remember his own name, much less his sister’s identity, we learn that he has kept the feather for all these years—a reminder of his love for Pari that proves even stronger than his memory. Human memory is a powerful thing, but it’s ultimately weak and fallible. Abdullah’s yellow feather can be said to symbolize the “tools” we turn to in order to strengthen our imperfect memories: objects which are originally intended to strengthen our memories, but which ultimately become the only parts of the memory to survive.
And the Mountains Echoed
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The timeline below shows where the symbol The Yellow Feather appears in And the Mountains Echoed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.