I’ll Give You the Sun

by

Jandy Nelson

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The Invisible Museum Symbol Icon

Noah Sweetwine’s “invisible museum” represents his desire to make sense of the world around him. The “museum” is a mental space inside his mind where he composes paintings and drawings that reflect the world around him and his reactions to its pain, joy, and drama. Noah is constantly coming up with titles for portraits and self-portraits based on the things that are happening to him in real life; for instance, when he sees his sister come home from hangouts with her new friends—and boyfriends, he imagines a portrait entitled “Jude Braiding Boy After Boy into Her Hair.” Noah’s “invisible” portraits are often metaphoric, invoking a mood rather than a literal image. The shy, introverted Noah is, at the start of the novel, struggling intensely with his sexuality and a lack of self-esteem; within the invisible museum, however, the world is something Noah can control and make sense of. Thus, the invisible museum becomes a symbol throughout the novel for Noah’s desire to understand and indeed participate in the world, frightening and intense as it is to him—every time Noah paints a mental picture of someone he loves, draws in charcoal something that frightens him, or arranges into abstract cubes someone he’s puzzled by, Noah is working to understand his friends, his family, himself, and the world beyond the sleepy town of Lost Cove, California.

The Invisible Museum Quotes in I’ll Give You the Sun

The I’ll Give You the Sun quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Invisible Museum. 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

Mom says Jude acts the way she does now on account of hormones, but I know it’s on account of her hating me. She stopped going to museums with us ages ago, which is probably a good thing, because when she did, her shadow kept trying to strangle mine. I’d see it happening on the walls or on the floor. Sometimes lately, I catch her shadow creeping around my bed at night trying to pull the dreams out of my head. I have a good idea what she does instead of coming to the museum, though. Three times now, I’ve seen hickeys on her neck. Bug bites, she said. Sure. I heard while spying that she and Courtney Barrett have been riding bikes down to the boardwalk on weekends, where they see who can kiss more boys.

(Portrait: Jude Braiding Boy After Boy into Her Hair)

Related Symbols: The Invisible Museum
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

He points to my pad. “So I guess you just talk in there, is that it?”

“Pretty much,” I say. We’re under a streetlamp and I’m trying not to stare but it’s hard. I wish the world would stick like a clock so I could look at him for as long as I want. There’s something going on in his face right now, something very bright trying to get out—a dam keeping back a wall of light. His soul might be a sun. I’ve never met anyone who had the sun for a soul.

I want to say more so he doesn’t leave. I feel so good, the freaking green leafy kind of good. “I paint in my head,” I tell him. “I was the whole time.” I’ve never told anyone I do this, not even Jude, and I have no idea why I’m telling him. I’ve never let anyone into the invisible museum before.

Related Characters: Noah Sweetwine (speaker), Brian Connelly / The Boy from the Roof (speaker), Jude Sweetwine
Related Symbols: The Invisible Museum
Page Number: 70
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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I’ll Give You the Sun PDF

The Invisible Museum Symbol Timeline in I’ll Give You the Sun

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Invisible Museum appears in I’ll Give You the Sun. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Identity and Codependency  Theme Icon
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
...body. As Noah thinks of his sister, who is always saving him from trouble, he imagines a portrait of the two of them in which he looks into a mirror while Jude looks... (full context)
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...to hide his erection and waits for Zephyr to begin beating him in earnest. He imagines another self-portrait entitled Funeral in the Forest. (full context)
Chapter 3
Identity and Codependency  Theme Icon
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...Jude’s acting differently because of her “hormones,” Noah knows that Jude must hate him. Noah imagines a portrait of Jude, Braiding Boy After Boy into Her Hair. (full context)
Identity and Codependency  Theme Icon
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
...it away. Noah feels that Jude gives off light, and he gives off dark, and imagines a portrait of them as a “flashlight” and a “flashdark.” (full context)
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...“invisible museum”—he never lets anyone in. When the neighbor boy asks Noah what he was painting, Noah replies, “You.” Worried he has said too much, Noah quickly hurries inside. (full context)
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
...a spare magnifying glass. Realizing that Brian brought along the spare just for him, Noah imagines a self-portrait in which he is standing on his own head. (full context)
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Magic and the Supernatural  Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...with social anxiety, he feels the mood between them shift. Brian asks Noah about the paintings he does in his head, and wonders aloud whether Noah has drawn him yet. Noah... (full context)
Identity and Codependency  Theme Icon
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...even more so when Brian invites Jude up to the roof, too. Noah imagines a painting of Jude in Her New Home in Timbuktu. Noah elbows Jude out of the way... (full context)
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Grief and Guilt Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
Noah is paralyzed, and draws a self-portrait in the invisible museum of himself as a gutted fish. He staggers from the room and then makes his... (full context)
Chapter 5
Identity and Codependency  Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Fear Theme Icon
...their affection for one another. Noah feels as if he and Brian are in a painting—he is completely ecstatic. The moment is shattered, though, when Brian pulls away and tells Noah... (full context)
Chapter 7
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Grief and Guilt Theme Icon
...doesn’t live here. Noah asks who is speaking—but somehow already knows it’s the police, and imagines a self-portrait : The Boy Inside the Boy Stops Breathing. Though Noah hasn’t been told yet what’s... (full context)
Art, Self-Expression, and Communication Theme Icon
Grief and Guilt Theme Icon
...car in the driveway—it is Dad, who is being tailed by a police officer. Noah imagines another self-portrait : Boy Careens Off World. As Benjamin comes inside, he is weeping, and holds Noah... (full context)