I’ll Give You the Sun

by

Jandy Nelson

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on I’ll Give You the Sun can help.

Grandma Sweetwine’s Bible and Aphorisms Symbol Analysis

Grandma Sweetwine’s Bible and Aphorisms Symbol Icon

Just as Noah has the invisible museum, Jude Sweetwine, too, has a coping mechanism which allows her to see the world on her own terms: her deceased grandmother’s “bible” of superstition, lore, and wisdom. With advice like “To avoid serious illness, keep an onion in your pocket” and “Every picture taken of you reduces your spirit and shortens your life,” Grandma Sweetwine’s bible is chock-full of unique—if slightly batty—advice for getting through life. Jude’s chapters are set in the “future,” when she and Noah are sixteen—they have lost their mother Dianna and are struggling to navigate their teenage years while dealing with the trauma of their loss and the schism it has created between the two of them. In this way, Grandma’s bible and the aphorisms contain within it become a symbol of Jude’s desire to make sense of a world that has lost all logical reasoning. Her mother is dead, her twin brother has gone from introverted weirdo to hapless normie, and her own bad decisions—such as losing her virginity to an older boy, Zephyr, despite not really wanting to, and sabotaging Noah’s application to the prestigious CSA—have derailed her young life. Unable to understand why things are so out of control or how she can possibly get them back track, Jude turns to Grandma Sweetwine’s aphorism to make her way through the world. Even if the advice contained therein is strange and offbeat, it at least gives Jude a pattern to follow and a way of understanding things in the wake of everything logical having fallen apart.

Grandma Sweetwine’s Bible and Aphorisms Quotes in I’ll Give You the Sun

The I’ll Give You the Sun quotes below all refer to the symbol of Grandma Sweetwine’s Bible and Aphorisms. 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:
Identity and Codependency  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dial Books edition of I’ll Give You the Sun published in 2014.
Chapter 4 Quotes

“This sculpture needs to be made so much you cry like this?”

I turn around. He’s leaning against the wall by the painting of the kiss, his arms crossed.

“Yes,” I gasp out, then say more calmly, “Yes.” Is he changing his mind? The sob begins to retreat.

He’s stroking his chin. His expression softens. “You need to make this sculpture so badly, you will risk your young life by sharing space with a disease-carrying cat?”

“Yes. Totally, yes. Please.”

“You are sure you want to forsake the warm, moist breath of clay for the cold, unforgiving eternity of stone.”

“I am sure.” Whatever that means.

“Come back tomorrow afternoon. Bring your portfolio and a sketchpad. And tell your brother to give you back the sun, trees, stars, all of it already. I think you need.”

Related Characters: Jude Sweetwine (speaker), Guillermo Garcia (speaker)
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

I take him by the shoulders. “Noah.” My voice has returned. “It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t.” I repeat the words until I’m sure he’s heard them, believes them. “It wasn’t anyone’s. It just happened. This terrible thing happened to her. This terrible thing happened to us.”

And then it’s my turn. I’m being shoved forward, shoved right out of my skin with just how terrible—Mom ripped out of my life the very moment I needed her the most, the bottomless unconditional shielding sheltering love she had for me taken forever. I let myself feel the terrible, surrender to it finally instead of running from it, instead of telling myself it all belongs to Noah and not to me, instead of putting an index of fears and superstitions between me and it, instead of mummifying myself in layers of clothing to protect myself from it, and I’m falling forward with the force of two years of buried grief, the sorrow of ten thousand oceans finally breaking inside me—

I let it. I let my heart break.

And Noah is there, strong and sturdy, to catch me, to hold me through it, to make sure I’m safe.

Related Characters: Noah Sweetwine (speaker), Jude Sweetwine (speaker), Dianna Sweetwine / Mom
Page Number: 348
Explanation and Analysis:

Our connection is still so natural, though now, for me, it’s tinged with guilt because of Dad. I turn back to my clay model, start caressing my mother’s shoulder into shape, her upper arm. “It’s like some part of me knew,” I tell him, working the bend of her elbow. “I don’t know what I knew, but I knew I was supposed to be here. You made me feel better too. So much better. I was so locked in.”

“This is what I think,” he says. “I think maybe Dianna, she break your bowls, so you come find a stone carver.”

I look at him. “Yeah,” I say, the back of my neck tingling. “Me too.”

Because who knows? Who knows anything? Who knows who’s pulling the strings? Or what is? Or how? Who knows if destiny is just how you tell yourself the story of your life? Another son might not have heard his mother’s last words as a prophecy but as drug-induced gibberish, forgotten soon after. Another girl might not have told herself a love story about a drawing her brother made. Who knows if Grandma really thought the first daffodils of spring were lucky or if she just wanted to go on walks with me through the woods? Who knows if she even believed in her bible at all or if she just preferred a world where hope and creativity and faith trump reason? Who knows if there are ghosts (sorry, Grandma) or just the living, breathing memories of your loved ones inside you, speaking to you, trying to get your attention by any means necessary? Who knows where the hell Ralph is? (Sorry, Oscar.) No one knows.

So we grapple with the mysteries, each in our own way.

Page Number: 369
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire I’ll Give You the Sun LitChart as a printable PDF.
I’ll Give You the Sun PDF

Grandma Sweetwine’s Bible and Aphorisms Symbol Timeline in I’ll Give You the Sun

The timeline below shows where the symbol Grandma Sweetwine’s Bible and Aphorisms appears in I’ll Give You the Sun. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Grief and Guilt Theme Icon
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
...with the family towards the end of her life, she brought with her a leather-bound “bible” full of superstitions, lore, and tips in luck and love. Dad, a scientist, was—and is—visibly... (full context)
Identity and Codependency  Theme Icon
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
...a group of nearby boys, he overhears Mom telling Jude that Grandma Sweetwine willed her “bible”—an encyclopedia of odd beliefs—to Jude. Jude is elated. (full context)
Chapter 2
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
...crawling around in a clover patch looking for a four-leaf clover—she read in Grandma Sweetwine’s “bible” that “a person in possession of a four-leaf clover is able to thwart all sinister... (full context)
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...on his face, and is “wild-looking” and “hot.” Jude recalls a line from Grandma Sweetwine’s bible, which states that “Any marked peculiarity in the face indicates a similar peculiarity of disposition.” (full context)
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...he points his camera at Jude, she screams out a “No”—she believes, because of Grandma’s bible, that “every picture taken of you reduces your spirit and shortens your life.” Even though... (full context)
Chapter 4
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...on a lemon, hoping to nip her crush on the English guy in the bud—Grandma’s bible dictates that “nothing curdles love in the heart like lemon on the tongue.” The ghost... (full context)
Identity and Codependency  Theme Icon
Grief and Guilt Theme Icon
...his. Before leaving her room, Noah urges her to give “that totally lame book”—meaning Grandma’s bible—a rest. Jude wonders if her and Noah’s personalities have “swapped bodies.” (full context)
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Grief and Guilt Theme Icon
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
...the room and into Guillermo’s arms. Black cats are terrible luck according to Grandma Sweetwine’s bible, and Guillermo jokingly tells Jude that she is “totally loca.” (full context)
Grief and Guilt Theme Icon
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...has a spare orange, and tosses it to her. Jude is baffled—according to Grandma Sweetwine’s bible, “If a boy gives a girl an orange, her love for him will multiply.” Jude... (full context)
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...to get a piece of her hair into Oscar’s pocket—Jude remembers her aphorism in the bible, “As long as a man has a lock of your hair on his person, you... (full context)
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Grief and Guilt Theme Icon
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...letter is unfinished, and Jude thinks of a piece of Grandma Sweetwine’s wisdom from the bible: “If a man doesn’t give his beloved the letter he writes, his love is true.” (full context)
Grief and Guilt Theme Icon
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...not to judge Oscar so quickly. Jude remembers the very last passage written in Grandma’s bible: “A broken heart is an open heart.” (full context)
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...As they exchange banter and laughter, Jude thinks of one of Grandma’s aphorisms from the bible: “Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you’ve been in before […]... (full context)
Grief and Guilt Theme Icon
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...met in church, but he leaves without answering. Jude comes up with a piece of “scripture” of her own on the fly, and thinks that if she puts the “most passionate... (full context)
Chapter 8
Identity and Codependency  Theme Icon
Grief and Guilt Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...make their way home through the woods, Jude realizes that Grandma’s last aphorism from the bible—“A broken heart is an open heart”—was right after all. Noah and Jude talk more than... (full context)
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
...and Jude have made an agreement—she is going to stop relying so much on Grandma’s bible, and he is going to stop cliff-diving. Jude plans on making paper flying women out... (full context)