The Five People You Meet in Heaven

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The Ocean Symbol Icon

Throughout the novel, the ocean represents both destruction and new beginnings. Powerfully beautiful and yet dangerous, it is a constant at Ruby Pier. To Ruby, the ocean represents how ambition can turn into destruction: her husband, Emile, was captivated by the romance and opportunity of sea resorts, and became consumed with the effort of building Ruby Pier. When the park burned down, all of his dreams burned with it. The ocean is also where Eddie and Marguerite first fall in love, and years later it is there where they renew their love after it has faded. The ocean is also a constant reminder to Eddie of the world beyond, and his failure to leave Ruby Pier. While Eddie’s father dies from the pneumonia he catches during storm on the ocean, it is that same ocean storm which also gives him the chance to redeem himself by saving his friend, Mickey Shea, from drowning.

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The Ocean Symbol Timeline in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Ocean 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
...protagonist, Eddie. It is an ordinary day at Ruby Pier, an amusement park on the ocean where the elderly Eddie has worked in maintenance for all of his life. Eddie knows... (full context)
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
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With 19 minutes left to live, Eddie sits down in an aluminum beach chair behind the rides, in what is described as his “usual spot.” Sitting there, he... (full context)
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
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...me Love You” plays in his head against the sounds of Ruby Pier and the ocean waves. A little girl, whom Eddie thinks of as “Amy or Annie,” comes up and... (full context)
Chapter 3
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
...died, and he is now floating through a series of vibrant changing colors and peaceful oceanic scenery, remembering his last moments. He wonders if he saved “Amy or Annie,” but suddenly... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...his story. Born Joseph Corvelzchik, his first memory was his mother lifting him over the ocean as they emigrated from Poland. He was then forced to work with his father in... (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
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Gender Roles Theme Icon
...ask her, 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... (full context)
Chapter 20
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
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...story. She was once a young, pretty waitress at that very diner, right by the sea. She rejected the advance of many visiting men, until one day, when a handsome, rich... (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
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...was later rebuilt with the same name. Though they found a home away from the ocean and had three children, Emile was permanently crippled and depressed, and they had lost most... (full context)
Chapter 24
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...around, Eddie’s father runs after Mickey and into the storm. He finds Mickey at the ocean, and the two men fall into the tide fighting. The water catches Mickey, and Eddie’s... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
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...souls of those who were hurt at Ruby Pier safe and warm, far from the ocean. (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
...in heaven 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... (full context)