The novel flashes back and forth between Eddie’s passage through heaven and the retelling of his life story, using birthdays to mark each episode of Eddie’s life. Birthdays and other celebrations thus represent the passage of time, and they add importance to each milestone in Eddie’s life. When Marguerite is alive, Eddie feels enough joy and meaning to celebrate with her—they celebrate their wedding, birthdays, and they hold a farewell party before she dies. Celebrations highlight relationships and connections, and add meaning to the ordinary routine of life. After Marguerite’s death, Eddie no longer feels like life is worth celebrating.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Birthdays and Celebrations appears in The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...novel returns to Eddie’s childhood. Eddie has again lost the ball he received for his birthday the year before (which rolled away in the previous flashback). He runs after it, darts... (full context)
...realizes he was there as a child—and it becomes clear that this was Eddie’s eighth birthday (as mentioned in the previous chapter). Eddie marvels that back then, he couldn’t have known... (full context)
...trying to make everything pleasant for her. Everyone acts as if it weren’t a “farewell” celebration. A few days later, Marguerite wakes screaming, and Eddie drives her to the hospital. All... (full context)
...restaurant menu, an army metal, and a polaroid of a man with children, blowing out birthday candles. The estate attorney finds Eddie’s bank information. As they walk out, the attorney thinks... (full context)