Everything I Never Told You


Celeste Ng

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Water/Swimming/the Lake

Undoubtedly the most important symbol in the book is the lake in which Lydia drowns. Located at the end of the Lees’ street, the lake represents mystery—everything the characters cannot know and everything they do…

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James and Marilyn meet at Harvard, and Nath’s imminent enrollment there haunts the entire book. However, each of these characters has a very different relationship with the institution. Harvard represents James’ academic accomplishments—he completes both…

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The Betty Crocker Cookbook

Betty Crocker is, according to Marilyn, Doris’ “personal goddess,” and Doris treasures the red cookbook instructing housewives on how to create a happy home filled with elaborate meals and treats. When Marilyn goes to…

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For almost her entire life, Marilyn is obsessed with becoming a doctor. It is a dream she has harbored since childhood, and whenever she faces opposition (mostly in the form of sexist prejudice against the…

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One of the sections of Doris’ Betty Crocker cookbook that has the greatest impact on Marilyn is entitled “Basic Eggs.” It instructs housewives to know all six “basic ways” to make an egg and to…

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Lydia’s “Baby Soft” Perfume

When Lydia dies she is 16, right in the middle of the charged transitional phase between childhood and adulthood. To some extent, Lydia is still a young girl with an irrationally childlike way of thinking…

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