Nina’s passkey, which allows her to access any room within the hotel, comes to represent the Count’s sense of freedom in the Metropol. Using the key, Nina is able to show him the underbelly of the Metropol, including its back rooms and secret passageways. This allows the Count’s world to expand, which is psychologically comforting to him when he starts to feel as though the walls are closing in on him. Nina ultimately gives the Count the key as a Christmas gift, and he uses it throughout the remainder of his time in the hotel. Ultimately, it also lets the Count sneak into certain rooms and acquire items that he needs to escape the Metropol, which makes the key instrumental in achieving both imaginative and literal freedom.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Nina’s Passkey appears in A Gentleman in Moscow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Around and About
Book 1, Advent
Book 5, Arrivederci
Book 5, Antagonists at Arms (And an Absolution)