An Abundance of Katherines

by

John Green

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The Archduke Franz Ferdinand Symbol Analysis

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand Symbol Icon

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a not particularly important or well-liked Autro-Hungarian aristocrat while he was alive, but his assassination in 1914 was used as justification by his relatives to start the conflict that would ultimately become World War I. Colin identifies with the Archduke because he was shot in the gut, and the wound must have felt the physical version of the emotional hole Colin locates in his own gut. It seems that Colin also finds significance in the figure of the Archduke because he died young, and was not particularly impressive to anyone while he was alive. Colin worries about the legacy he will leave, and he worries (although not explicitly) that if he is to achieve any kind of legacy, it might only be by dying young like the Archduke.

The town of Gutshot, Tennessee boasts that it holds the grave of the Archduke, and it is this grave that initially inspires Colin to stop in Gutshot while on his road trip with Hassan. The grave has an obelisk, which John Green himself has acknowledged appears to be a phallic symbol, representing that the Archduke’s identity as a man continues in his death. When Colin has been kicked in his own groin near the end of the novel, he anagrams the letters on the obelisk and realizes that it is not the Archduke at all who is buried there, but rather Lindsey’s great grandfather, whose name is an anagram of Franz Ferdinand. Dr. Dinzanfar wanted his grave to be marked as that of the Archduke, and Hollis has recently decided to capitalize on tourists who want to see the grave. In this way, the story of the Archduke is distorted even further beyond the actual facts of his life. The Archduke thus represents for Colin not only the arbitrariness of death but also, by the end of the novel, the potential power of storytelling over historical events.

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand Quotes in An Abundance of Katherines

The An Abundance of Katherines quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Archduke Franz Ferdinand. 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:
Achievement and Mortality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Speak edition of An Abundance of Katherines published in 2012.
Chapter 5 Quotes

Shit, Colin made a funny. This place is like magic for you. Shame about how we’re gonna die here, though. I mean, seriously. An Arab and a half-Jew enter a store in Tennessee. It’s the beginning of a joke, and the punchline is “sodomy.”

Related Characters: Hassan Harbish (speaker), Colin Singleton
Related Symbols: The Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

He thought of Chicago, where you can go days without ever once stepping on a single patch of actual earth. That well-paved world appealed to him, and he missed it as his feet fell on uneven clumps of hardened dirt that threatened to twist his ankles.

Related Symbols: The Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Archduke Franz Ferdinand Symbol Timeline in An Abundance of Katherines

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Archduke Franz Ferdinand appears in An Abundance of Katherines. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Achievement and Mortality Theme Icon
Self-Actualization Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
...distracts himself by thinking of other holes in stomachs. In particular, he thinks of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination led to World War I. Still, Colin keeps coming back to... (full context)
Chapter 5
Achievement and Mortality Theme Icon
...his desire to find air conditioning, until he sees a sign for the grave of Archduke Franz Ferdinand off Exit 212 in Tennessee. Colin points it out to Hassan, who is... (full context)
Achievement and Mortality Theme Icon
Self-Actualization Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
...After he hangs up, he and Hassan eat at Hardees and get directions to the Archduke’s grave from the woman behind the register. They are looking for a town called Gutshot,... (full context)
Achievement and Mortality Theme Icon
Plans, Change, and Growth Theme Icon
...if Colin if he thinks “they’ve ever seen a Jew-fro.” Colin insists, feeling that the Archduke’s grave will show him something about his missing piece and the hole in his gut... (full context)
Achievement and Mortality Theme Icon
Plans, Change, and Growth Theme Icon
...features a sign that says, “THE KINGDOM OF GUTSHOT – ETERNAL RESTING PLACE OF THE ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND / ICE-COLD BEER / SODA / BAIT.” Colin jokes about the sign, and Hassan says... (full context)
Storytelling Theme Icon
Plans, Change, and Growth Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
...she is reading Celebrity Living. Finally, he walks to the desk and asks about the Archduke. She surprises Colin by smiling briefly, then tells him that tours are once an hour,... (full context)
Chapter 7
Achievement and Mortality Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...field, which turns abruptly into a graveyard. A six-foot obelisk marks the grave of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Lindsey says that Colin probably knows the story already, but she describes the... (full context)
Achievement and Mortality Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Plans, Change, and Growth Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Colin looks at the obelisk and reflects on what might have been for the Archduke if he hadn’t been so much like Colin. “In the end,” Colin reflects, “the Archduke... (full context)
Self-Actualization Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Hassan asks how this rural town in Tennessee got the Archduke. Lindsey says the town bought him around 1921 for thirty-five hundred dollars. Colin mentions that... (full context)
Chapter 15
Achievement and Mortality Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
...they see a house that Colin recognizes as one that can be seen from the Archduke’s grave. They hurry toward it and see movement in the graveyard. As they draw closer,... (full context)
Chapter 16
Plans, Change, and Growth Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
...to find the first girl he ever kissed having sex with TOC next to the Archduke’s grave. Colin turns around and sees that Hassan is right—the guy with Katrina is TOC.... (full context)
Self-Actualization Theme Icon
Plans, Change, and Growth Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
...ground, but Lindsey frees herself by squeezing TOC’s genitals. Colin makes his way to the Archduke’s obelisk, “the only geographical location in the world that wasn’t currently spinning.” (full context)
Achievement and Mortality Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Plans, Change, and Growth Theme Icon
...pushes through it, knowing he has to help Hassan, and drags himself up on the Archduke’s obelisk to look around. TOC is gone. Lindsey is tending to Hassan with her first-aid... (full context)
Chapter 19
Achievement and Mortality Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
After a silence, Colin says he thinks the Archduke’s grave contains someone else’s body. Lindsey says it’s her great-grandfather. Colin is surprised that she... (full context)