The key ring that Jazzlyn drops during the police raid is an item that becomes rather charged with meaning as Let the Great World Spin progresses. It changes hands multiple times—from Jazzlyn’s to Corrigan’s, from Corrigan’s to Lara’s, from Lara’s to Ciaran’s, and from Ciaran’s to—finally—Tillie’s. Not only does it represent the ways in which even the smallest things can connect humans through long, complicated inheritances, but it also stands for the danger that Jaslyn and Janice face as children of a young prostitute who is forced—either by law or by death—to abandon them. (And notably, the key ring even bears pictures of the two children). It becomes clear that, if Gloria hadn’t shown up at the right place at the right time in order to adopt them, they too may have been passed from person to person just like the key ring that carries their images.
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Key Ring appears in Let the Great World Spin. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book One, Chapter 1: All Respects to Heaven, I Like it Here
...and make him stand on the curb. On his way inside, Corrigan picks up a key ring that Jazzlyn dropped. It bears pictures of her two daughters. Ciaran tries to tell his... (full context)
Book One, Chapter 3: A Fear of Love
...AM on August 7th, a bag of tobacco, cigarette papers, some money, a lighter, a key ring with the picture of two black girls, and the driver’s license of John A. Corrigan. (full context)
...to Corrigan—come to him and hug him. Ciaran reaches into his pocket and produces the key ring with the pictures of Tillie’s grandchildren. He gives it to Tillie and she studies it... (full context)
Book Two, Chapter 7: This is the House That Horse Built
...a good excuse,” she says. She stops eating and spends her time playing with the key ring that bears photos of her granddaughters. (full context)