The Five People You Meet in Heaven

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Tala Character Analysis

Eddie’s fifth person in heaven, a little Filipino girl who Eddie unknowingly kills while he and his unit are escaping captivity during the war. Tala is affectionate, trusting, and wise. Following her mother’s instructions, Tala hides from Eddie and his men in one of the abandoned village huts. Thinking the huts are empty, Eddie and his unit set the village on fire to send for a rescue signal. Standing before one of the flaming huts, Eddie thinks he sees a small shadow move, but his unit forces him out before he can be sure. All his life, Eddie feels consumed by a darkness, and tries to convince himself nobody was in the hut. In heaven, Eddie is overcome with guilt to realize that the shadow he saw was Tala. Tala then teaches Eddie that he was supposed to be at Ruby Pier all along, keeping children safe to redeem himself for killing Tala.

Tala Quotes in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The The Five People You Meet in Heaven quotes below are all either spoken by Tala or refer to Tala . 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 35 Quotes

He was nothing now, a leaf in the water, and she pulled him gently, through shadow and light, through shades of blue and ivory and lemon and black, and he realized all these colors, all along, were the emotions of his life.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Tala
Related Symbols: Color and Darkness
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Eddie goes through a rite of purification that symbolizes his struggle to come to terms with his life on the Earth. Tala--the little girl whom Eddie killed years ago during his time in World War II--leads Eddie into a river, where he finds that colors are coming off of his body. Some of the colors are bright, while others are dark, but together, they make a beautiful rainbow.

The symbolism of the colors is clear enough: Eddie's life has been full of joys and sorrows (bright and dark colors)--and yet the combined effects of so many different colors is more stunning than any single color could be. Eddie thinks of the pain in his life as a horrible burden, but in fact, his pain and suffering have actually made his life richer and more complex. It's strange to think that pain can be anything other than miserable, but as Albom sees it, one needs both pleasure and pain to get the full measure of mortal life. 

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Tala Character Timeline in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The timeline below shows where the character Tala appears in The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 33
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
...full of dark-skinned children, and no adults are there. On a hill, Eddie sees a young girl waving toward him. Suddenly, he finds himself standing in front of her. (full context)
Chapter 35
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
In heaven, the little girl by the river introduces herself as Tala. She invites Eddie to sit with her on a mat. She tells him the Tagalog... (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
...in shock, but asks her questions to find out what happened. In broken, childlike English, Tala tells him she was hiding from soldiers in a hut, because her mother told her... (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
Time Theme Icon
Tala picks up a stone, and tells Eddie “You wash me.” Reluctant and unsure, he follows... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
...and he again remembers the little girl, “Amy or Annie,” at Ruby Pier. He asks Tala if was able to pull her out of the way. Tala explains that he didn’t... (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
The river now rises above Eddie, and all the children but Tala disappear. Eddie feels himself letting go of all the pain of his life. Guided by... (full context)