At Hiruharama


Penelope Fitzgerald

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The Lawyer Symbol Analysis

The Lawyer Symbol Icon

The lawyer in the Tanners’ family serves as a twofold symbol of the family’s quest for upward mobility and of their guiding motto to “throw nothing away,” or to look for value in overlooked and neglected places. “At Hiruharama” shows why that phrase became important for the Tanners by telling the story of how Tanner almost accidentally threw away his daughter, thinking she was afterbirth. After the doctor saves her, the Tanners hang a tinplate in their kitchen with the phrase “Throw Nothing Away,” reminding themselves to look for value in overlooked places and to approach each day with clarity and care. But the value of the almost-discarded daughter doesn’t end with her discovery; in the eyes of Mr. Tanner, her value is compounded by what she does later in life. In contrast to her twin sister, who “never got to be anything in particular,” this almost-discarded daughter ultimately becomes a lawyer, fulfilling the promise of upward mobility that the Tanners sought when they first came to New Zealand.

The Lawyer Quotes in At Hiruharama

The At Hiruharama quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Lawyer. 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:
Value and Perception Theme Icon
At Hiruharama Quotes

Mr Tanner was anxious to explain how it was that he had a lawyer in the family, so that when they all decided to sell up and quit New Zealand there had been someone they could absolutely trust with the legal business.

Related Characters: Mr. Tanner
Related Symbols: The Lawyer
Page Number: 408
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Lawyer Symbol Timeline in At Hiruharama

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Lawyer appears in At Hiruharama. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
At Hiruharama
Upward Mobility and Colonialism Theme Icon
...and he’s excited to explain (to an unseen character) how they ended up with a lawyer in the family who could handle the legal business of selling their property. To explain... (full context)
Value and Perception Theme Icon
Upward Mobility and Colonialism Theme Icon of the first child, he says, this second daughter grew up to be a lawyer with a firm in Wellington and “did very well.” (full context)