The Five People You Meet in Heaven

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Ruby Pier Symbol Analysis

Ruby Pier Symbol Icon

Ruby Pier is the amusement park on the ocean where Eddie works in maintenance for most of his life. A place of both great celebration and great pain for Eddie and others, the park represents the variety of experience in Eddie’s life. Ruby Pier, like Eddie’s life, is full of rides that bring joy and excitement, as well as dangerous risks and losses. At first the park stands only as a symbol of Eddie’s sense of failure, as throughout his life, Eddie has failed to achieve his goal of leaving Ruby Pier to create a better life for himself elsewhere. In heaven, however, Eddie learns from the little girl Tala that he was meant to be at Ruby Pier. His work at the park allowed him to save countless children from danger, thus giving him a chance to redeem himself for unknowingly killing Tala during the war.

Ruby Pier Quotes in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The The Five People You Meet in Heaven quotes below all refer to the symbol of Ruby Pier. 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 1 Quotes

His plans never worked out (…) Like his father before him, like the patch on his shirt, Eddie was maintenance – the head of maintenance – or as kids sometimes called him, “the ride man at Ruby Pier.”

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie
Related Symbols: Ruby Pier
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we get a better sense for what kind of man Eddie is. Using free indirect discourse, the narrator seems to speak in Eddie's voice: thus, when we're told that Eddie never managed to make the life he wanted for himself, we get the idea that Eddie is talking to himself as he goes through the motions of working at Ruby Pier. Eddie sees his life as a failure: he had some plans, and never quite managed to achieve any of them. Specifically, he tried to save up to become an engineer after coming back from the army, but never found much success. Furthermore, Eddie is intensely lonely--the people with whom he spends the most time, the children at the Pier, don't even know his name. The book will challenge Eddie's pessimism, however--showing that Eddie accomplished a great deal in his life, whether he realized it or not.

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Ruby Pier Symbol Timeline in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The timeline below shows where the symbol Ruby Pier appears in The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...sixty minutes until the death of the protagonist, Eddie. It is an ordinary day at Ruby Pier , an amusement park on the ocean where the elderly Eddie has worked in maintenance... (full context)
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...live, Eddie encounters Dominguez, a cheerful young man who works with him in maintenance at Ruby Pier . Eddie gives a very appreciative Dominguez 40 dollars as a gift for his upcoming... (full context)
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...met Marguerite, his “one true-love.” This was years before, when they were both teenagers at Ruby Pier . They danced to big band music by the ocean, and Eddie remembers the dark... (full context)
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
...when a teenager named Nicky lost his car key on one of the rides at Ruby Pier . The narrator comments regarding this incident that, “No story sits by itself.” (full context)
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
...to live, the novel returns to Eddie, warmly remembering his first dance with Marguerite at Ruby Pier on the dance floor once called the “Stardust Band Shell.” The Judy Garland song, “You... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
In the mysterious afterlife, Eddie wakes up alone in the Ruby Pier of his childhood. Surprised at how young and spry he feels, Eddie decides to run... (full context)
Chapter 6
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
...a child when the Blue Man knew him. Eddie is disappointed that heaven looks like Ruby Pier , but the Blue Man explains that there are many steps to Heaven. He says... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...eventually took pride in being a prized member of the circus. His show came to Ruby Pier , where he was invited to stay on. The park then became his home, and... (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
...to do things when sad things happen.” At the funeral for the unnamed departed at Ruby Pier , Eddie knows he should be expressing sadness along with the adults. Still, he cannot... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
Back on Earth in the present day, a crowd gathers, gaping, around the scene at Ruby Pier just moments after Eddie’s death by the falling cart. Nobody wants to get close to... (full context)
Chapter 13
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
...back to Eddie’s youth, when World War II was taking place. For Eddie, working at Ruby Pier and trying to save money to study engineering seem irrelevant when other men are shipping... (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
...to juggle. Eddie begins to entertain the “Crazies” with the carnival skills he learned at Ruby Pier as a child. While they are distracted, Eddie signals his men to help him attack... (full context)
Chapter 14
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
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...even as they spend a romantic evening after the party, walking by the ocean at Ruby Pier . As if reading his mind, Marguerite announces that she will wait for him, and... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Back on earth, it is Monday morning at Ruby Pier . Dominguez has skipped breakfast and shows up at work in Maintenance. He and Willie... (full context)
Chapter 20
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...father would either yell or ignore him. When he took Eddie out on Saturdays to Ruby Pier , he would find someone else to take care of Eddie while he drank and... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...was a teenager and he went to work with his father as a mechanic at Ruby Pier , his father would toss him broken equipment to fix. “It’s fixed,” Eddie would say,... (full context)
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
...this task. He remembers the fish he used to see flopping hopelessly in nets at Ruby Pier , and thinks of himself like that—feeling trapped and hopeless for all of his life... (full context)
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...massive project, and a few years later, he brought her blindfolded to the entrance of Ruby Pier . The woman now introduces herself to Eddie as Ruby. (full context)
Chapter 22
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
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...continues telling Eddie her story. On one Fourth of July, some drunken workers accidentally set Ruby Pier on fire. Emile saw the entrance columns, marked by Ruby’s name and picture, bursting into... (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
All through Eddie’s life, he has tried to avoid the fate of working at Ruby Pier like his father. When Eddie was young and planned to go to engineering school, and... (full context)
Chapter 23
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
...takes the story very seriously. He begins talking about all the potential safety hazards at Ruby Pier , and Noel chides that Eddie isn’t very much fun, even on his birthday. The... (full context)
Chapter 24
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...things for Eddie’s family over the years, such as getting his father his job at Ruby Pier , and giving the family money when Eddie was born and they were struggling. Ruby... (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
...her husband, Emile. When Ruby learned that Eddie’s father worked and had fallen ill at Ruby Pier , she felt as if she were responsible for the accident herself. She took a... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
...he needs to forgive his father. Eddie tells her that his life was wasted at Ruby Pier because of his father, but Ruby tells him that isn’t true, and that he will... (full context)
Chapter 28
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...a sense of “melting warmth.” He begins to tell Marguerite all about the accident at Ruby Pier that caused his death. Eddie talks and talks, eager to tell her everything. Suddenly, he... (full context)
Chapter 30
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
...to Marguerite that he never built the life he imagined for them both outside of Ruby Pier . Marguerite asks Eddie what happened to him in the war, but Eddie still can’t... (full context)
Chapter 35
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
...do anything with his life. Tala tells him he was “supposed to be there,” at Ruby Pier . She tells him that by keeping the children safe, “You make good for me.”... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
...this part of heaven, 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... (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
...are the “emotions of his life.” Rising above the water, Eddie sees the beach at Ruby Pier full of thousands of families with children playing. He realizes that these are all the... (full context)
Chapter 36 (Epilogue)
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The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
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After Eddie’s death, Ruby Pier stays closed for a week before re-opening. The ride that killed Eddie, Freddie’s Free Fall,... (full context)