Inside Out and Back Again

by

Thanhhà Lai

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The Amethyst Ring Symbol Analysis

The Amethyst Ring Symbol Icon

The amethyst ring that Father brought back from the U.S. for Mother symbolizes Mother’s connection to Father. Father has been missing in action for the last nine years, and nobody knows if he’s deceased, a prisoner of war, or otherwise stuck in North Vietnam and unable to travel to South Vietnam or tell Mother where he is. Mother and in particular use the ring to feel connected to Father—indeed, for Mother, it’s the only memento of Father’s that she can bear to have around all the time. She uses it as a proxy for Father when she chants and speaks to him, asking for his advice, guidance, and often for him to return.

Therefore, it’s devastating when Mother loses the amethyst ring at the factory where she works one day, not long after she receives word from Father’s brother that he doesn’t know where Father is, either. When a thorough search of the factory turns up nothing, Mother chants and decides to take losing the ring as a sign that it’s time to accept that Father is dead and isn’t coming back. And while losing the ring is traumatic, it nevertheless brings Mother closure.

The Amethyst Ring Quotes in Inside Out and Back Again

The Inside Out and Back Again quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Amethyst Ring. 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:
War, Childhood, and Maturity Theme Icon
).
Part 2: At Sea Quotes

I have never seen her
without this purple rock.
I can’t fall asleep
unless I twist the ring
and count circles.

Brother Quang says,
NO!
What’s the point of
new shirts and sandals
if you lose the last
tangible remnant of love?

I don’t understand
what he said
but I agree.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Brother Quang (speaker), Mother, Father
Related Symbols: The Amethyst Ring
Page Number: 103-04
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3: Alabama Quotes

I try
but can’t fall asleep,
needing amethyst-ring twirls
and her lavender scent.

I’m not as good as Mother
at making do.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother
Related Symbols: The Amethyst Ring
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4: From Now On Quotes

chanting.

The chant is long,
the voice
low and sure.

Finally
she appears,
looks at each of us.

Your father is
truly gone.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother (speaker), Father
Related Symbols: The Amethyst Ring
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:
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Inside Out and Back Again PDF

The Amethyst Ring Symbol Timeline in Inside Out and Back Again

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Amethyst Ring appears in Inside Out and Back Again. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: At Sea
Family and Grief Theme Icon
Culture, Food, and Tradition Theme Icon
Amethyst Ring. Mother wants to sell the amethyst ring that Father brought her from America, where he trained in the navy, and buy needles,... (full context)
Part 3: Alabama
Immigration, Culture Shock, and Belonging Theme Icon
Family and Grief Theme Icon
Culture, Food, and Tradition Theme Icon
...dried orange peels, which isn’t calming. Hà can’t fall asleep. She needs to twirl the amethyst ring and smell Mother’s lavender smell, since unlike Mother, Hà isn’t as good at making do. (full context)
Part 4: From Now On
Family and Grief Theme Icon
...work, barely able to speak. Her fists are clenched and her face is ashy—and the amethyst ring is gone from her left hand. Brother Quang drives everyone back to the factory so... (full context)