The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

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Eddie’s Mother Character Analysis

A gentle, comforting, stay-at-home mother devoted to her children and to Eddie’s father. She often tries to stop her husband and other men from violent and destructive behavior, but is usually helpless against it. She is always interested in Eddie’s life, and especially in his courtship with Marguerite. She refuses to leave her husband’s bedside during his illness. When he dies, she becomes delusional and continues to believe he is alive. Eddie’s mother has only loving and positive traits, and thereby represents an angelic female ideal, opposite to her husband.

Eddie’s Mother Quotes in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The The Five People You Meet in Heaven quotes below are all either spoken by Eddie’s Mother or refer to Eddie’s Mother. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Hachette Books edition of The Five People You Meet in Heaven published in 2006.
Chapter 4 Quotes

Later, she will walk him along the pier, perhaps take him on an elephant ride, or watch the fishermen pull in their evening nets, the fish flipping like shiny, wet coins. She will hold his hand and tell him God is proud of him for being a good boy on his birthday, and that will make the world feel right-side up again.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Eddie’s Mother
Page Number: 24-25
Explanation and Analysis:

In this important passage, we meet Eddie when he's only 5 years old. His father (who is generally an antagonistic character) ritually holds him upside down and "shakes him out" every year on his birthday to symbolize his growing maturity. Eddie seems not to like being shaken out; in the passage, for instance, he looks forward to the moment when the ritual is over and his mother will help turn the world "right-side up again." This is just one example of the primary role the female characters take in the book: that of (rather one-dimensional) caregivers and nurturing figures, primarily taking care of men or children.

The passage is also notable in that it brings up God. The novel has been praised for its Christian themes (it's all about Heaven, after all), but it gives few details of doctrine or specific beliefs, and overall, there's meant to be a more general spiritual element to the story. The novel's religion seems to hinge on the belief that our lives are interconnected in complex, challenging ways--thus, the spiritualism of the book is more universal and accessible than the specific teachings of Christianity (or any other organized religion, for that matter).

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Chapter 9 Quotes

Sometimes you have to do things when sad things happen.

Related Characters: Eddie’s Mother (speaker), Eddie
Related Symbols: Birthdays and Celebrations
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

In this touching passage, Eddie is turning 8 years old, and he's forced to go to a funeral on his birthday. Eddie is too young to really understand what it means to be dead--or why he, someone who doesn't know the deceased, really needs to go to the funeral. (This is ironic, since, we later learn, Eddie is the accidental cause of the man's death.) Eddie, as a child, thinks that he can separate his own pleasure from other people's pain--he can stay home and watch TV while other people cry. His life is his own, nobody else's.

Eddie's logic is crude, and yet it's more or less the same reasoning that most adults use. The passage implies that there's something immature and foolish about the notion that we should only care about our own happiness. True maturity and wisdom, we come to see, stem from the realization that the universe is a complicated place, in which one person's life influences hundreds of other lives.

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Eddie’s Mother Character Timeline in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The timeline below shows where the character Eddie’s Mother appears in The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...laugh and cheer. Eddie doesn’t like being upside down, and afterward he clings to his mother as she takes him out for a walk along the pier until the “world feels... (full context)
Chapter 9
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...birthday, and he is complaining that he doesn’t want to attend the funeral that his mother is dressing him for. His mother explains that, “Sometimes you have to do things when... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...Eddie’s seventeenth birthday, and he is sitting on his bed reading comic books when his mother calls him out to celebrate. In front of all their family and friends, including their... (full context)
Chapter 19
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Eddie is recovering in a Veteran Affairs hospital, after being returned home from war. His mother, father, brother, Marguerite, and Mickey Shea come into his room with a cake, singing “Happy... (full context)
Chapter 20
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...someone else to take care of Eddie while he drank and gambled. In contrast, Eddie’s mother was loving and protective. When Eddie got a bit older, his father habitually came home... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...again—not even at Eddie’s own wedding a couple years later. Throughout his life, whenever his mother or anyone else pleaded with his father to speak to him, Eddie’s father told them... (full context)
Chapter 22
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...a week before with a bad cough from a drunken night on the beach. Eddie’s mother is deeply distressed, and she hardly ever leaves her husband’s hospital room. Eddie and Marguerite... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
...in Ruby Pier, saying, “This ain’t good enough for you?” After his father’s death, Eddie’s mother starts to lose touch with reality, and Eddie and Marguerite decide to move in with... (full context)
Chapter 24
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...On a storming night, Mickey Shea is drunk and sobbing in the kitchen, and Eddie’s mother tends to him. Mickey follows Eddie’s mother into her bedroom, pushes her against a wall,... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...he saved Mickey Shea. Eddie is shocked to learn about Mickey’s attempt to rape his mother, and angrily says he would have let Mickey die after what he did. Ruby reminds... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...those he loved. Though they were nowhere near, he called out the names of his wife, his sons, and Mickey. Then he died. (full context)
Chapter 34
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...eighty-second birthday, Eddie takes a taxi to the cemetery and visits the graves of his mother, brother, briefly his father, and finally Marguerite. He thinks of her, and of how even... (full context)