I’ll Give You the Sun


Jandy Nelson

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Rock-Paper-Scissors Symbol Icon

At the start of the novel, as Noah describes his intensely close relationship with his twin sister Jude, he notes that the two of them have such a strong emotional link that they can’t even play a regular game of rock-paper-scissors—whenever they throw out the symbols, they always pick the same ones, and end up tying. The game, then, functions as a mirror of Noah and Jude’s symbiotic relationship. The game of rock-paper-scissors is a kind of litmus test which signifies and symbolizes where Noah and Jude are in relation to one another, whether they’re too close for comfort or at a distance which allows them, at last, to see the other clearly. Though Noah and Jude draw solace from one another, they are suffocating each other—and in many ways, the emotional schisms which tear their relationship apart during their early teenage years, painful as they are, actually save the two of them. At the end of the novel, when the two reunite emotionally after years of brushing the other off, they try a game of rock-paper-scissors and are delighted to find that they are at last able to play correctly: when Noah picks rock, Jude picks scissors, and so on and so forth. They welcome in a “new age” in their relationship as they mutually recognize that though their bond has changed, the shifts it has undergone have allowed them to mature and spread their wings without smothering one another.

Rock-Paper-Scissors Quotes in I’ll Give You the Sun

The I’ll Give You the Sun quotes below all refer to the symbol of Rock-Paper-Scissors. 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 1 Quotes

[Jude] scoots over so we’re shoulder to shoulder. This is us. Our pose. The smush. It’s even how we are in the ultrasound photo they took of us inside Mom and how I had us in the picture Fry ripped up yesterday. Unlike most everyone else on earth, from the very first cells of us, we were together, we came here together. This is why no one hardly notices that Jude does most of the talking for both of us, why we can only play piano with all four of our hands on the keyboard and not at all alone, why we can never do Rochambeau because not once in thirteen years have we chosen differently. It’s always: two rocks, two papers, two scissors. When I don’t draw us like this, I draw us as half-people.

The calm of the smush floods me. She breathes in and I join her. Maybe we’re too old to still do this, but whatever. I can see her smiling even though I’m looking straight ahead. We exhale together, then inhale together, exhale, inhale, in and out, out and in, until not even the trees remember what happened in the woods yesterday, until Mom’s and Dad’s voices turn from mad to music, until we’re not only one age, but one complete and whole person.

Page Number: 17-18
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

After a while, she picks up her fist. I do the same. “One two three,” we say at the same time.






“Yes!” she cries. “We still got it, yes we do!” She jumps to her feet. “We can watch the Animal Channel tonight. Or a movie? You can pick.”


“I want to—”

“Me too,” I reply, knowing what she was going to say. I want to be us again too.

(Portrait, Self-portrait: Brother and Sister on a Seesaw, Blindfolded)

She smiles, touches my arm. “Don’t be sad.” She says it so warmly, it makes the air change color. “It came right through the wall last night.” This was worse when we were younger. If one cried, the other cried even if we were on different sides of Lost Cove. I didn’t think it happened anymore.

“I’m fine,” I say.

She nods. “See you tonight then if Mom and I don’t kill each other.” She gives a salute and is off.

I don’t know how this can be but it can: A painting is both exactly the same and entirely different every single time you look at it. That’s the way it is between Jude and me now.

Related Characters: Noah Sweetwine (speaker), Jude Sweetwine (speaker)
Related Symbols: Rock-Paper-Scissors
Page Number: 118-119
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

“Let’s go,” Noah says, and we’re running together into the woods like we used to, and I can see how he’ll draw it later, with the redwoods bowing, the flowers opening like houses for us to enter, the creek following behind us in winding wending color, our feet inches above the ground.

Or maybe he’ll do it like this: the forest a blur of green over our heads while we lie on our backs, playing Rochambeau.

He picks rock. I pick scissors. I pick paper. He picks scissors. He picks rock. I pick paper. We give up, happily. It’s a new age. […]

I roll on my side to face him. “So can you believe how weird I’ve gotten and how normal you’ve gotten?” “It’s astounding,” he says, which cracks us both up. “Except most of the time,” he adds, “I feel like I’m undercover.”

“Me too.” I pick up a stick, start digging with it. “Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,” I say. “Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.” Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things.

Related Characters: Noah Sweetwine (speaker), Jude Sweetwine (speaker)
Page Number: 353-354
Explanation and Analysis:
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Rock-Paper-Scissors Symbol Timeline in I’ll Give You the Sun

The timeline below shows where the symbol Rock-Paper-Scissors appears in I’ll Give You the Sun. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Identity and Codependency  Theme Icon
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
...crawls into bed with Noah and together they assume the smush position. They try playing rock-paper-scissors, but keep picking the same symbols. Jude is delighted that they still have their link.... (full context)
Chapter 8
Identity and Codependency  Theme Icon
Grief and Guilt Theme Icon
...the open, rush home through the woods. As they skip through the forest, they play rock-paper-scissors, and are thrilled to realize that they can really play now—unlike in their younger days,... (full context)