Little Fires Everywhere

by

Celeste Ng

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Pearl, Mia’s daughter, was named by her mother for a character in The Scarlet Letter—a precocious child whose strained relationship with her mother ultimately threatens both women’s well-being. In Little Fires Everywhere, Pearl and Mia repeat that dynamic. Pearl is sick of being dragged from town to town, and has implored her mother to promise her that Shaker Heights will be the place where they finally settle down. Pearl almost immediately becomes intertwined in the lives of the Richardson family—first through her friendship with the shy, love-struck Moody, and later through her codependent friendship with Lexie and her sexual relationship with Trip. As Pearl finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the Richardsons’ lives, Mia takes a job, offered to her by Mrs. Richardson, to work as the Richardsons’ housekeeper. Pearl is never far from her mother’s watchful eye, even as the emotional distance between them grows. Pearl and Mia are ultimately asked to leave their rental house after Lexie uses Pearl’s name as her own at an abortion clinic—a fact which Mrs. Richardson discovers, and uses to jump to the conclusion that Pearl has been sleeping with Moody. Pearl’s misery at the idea of leaving is not enough to hold her and her mother to Shaker, and their lives as transients resume once again. Thoughtful, introspective, eager to please and allured by luxury and stability, Pearl embodies the novel’s themes of motherhood and daughterhood, ostracism and acceptance, and the search for and struggle with identity, heritage, and transience.

Pearl Warren Quotes in Little Fires Everywhere

The Little Fires Everywhere quotes below are all either spoken by Pearl Warren or refer to Pearl Warren. 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:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Little Fires Everywhere published in 2017.
Chapter 3 Quotes

This was how Moody made a decision he would question for the rest of his life. Until now he had said nothing about Pearl or her mother to his family, guarding their friendship like a dragon guards treasure: silently, greedily. Deep down he had the feeling that somehow it would change everything. If he had kept her to himself, perhaps the future might have been quite different. All he had to offer her, he felt, was what his family had to offer, his family itself, and it was this that led him to say, one afternoon in July, “Come over. You can meet my family.”

Related Characters: Moody Richardson (speaker), Pearl Warren
Page Number: 32-33
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

“Mom,” [Pearl] began, then found she could not repeat Lexie’s blunt words. Instead she asked the question that ran below all the other questions like a deep underground river. “Was I wanted?”
…Mia said nothing for such a long time that Pearl wasn’t sure if she’d heard. After a long pause, Mia turned around, and to Pearl’s amazement, her mother’s eyes were wet.
“Were you wanted?” Mia said. “Oh, yes. You were wanted. Very, very much.” She walked rapidly out of the room without looking at her daughter again.

Related Characters: Mia Warren (speaker), Pearl Warren (speaker)
Page Number: 44-45
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

“Listen to this dumbass question,” [Lexie] groaned, fishing the application from her bag. “Rewrite a famous story from a different perspective. For example, retell The Wizard of Oz from the point of view of the Wicked Witch.”
“How about a fairy tale,” Moody suggested. “‘Cinderella’ from the point of view of the stepsisters.”
“‘Little Red Riding Hood’ as told by the wolf,” Pearl suggested.
“Or ‘Rumplestiltskin,’” Lexie mused. “That miller’s daughter cheated him. He did all that spinning for her and she said she’d give him her baby and then she reneged. Maybe she’s the villain here. She shouldn’t have agreed to give up her baby in the first place, if she didn’t want to.”
“Well,” Mia put in suddenly. “Maybe she didn’t know what she was giving up. Maybe once she saw the baby she changed her mind. Don’t be too quick to judge.”

Related Characters: Mia Warren (speaker), Pearl Warren (speaker), Moody Richardson (speaker), Lexie Richardson (speaker), Bebe Chow, Linda and Mark McCullough
Page Number: 54-55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

“You see now,” Moody said. “What they’re like.”

Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

Mia could see there was no point in protesting, that protesting, in fact, would only make things worse and lead to ill will. She had learned that when people were bent on doing something they believed was a good deed, it was usually impossible to dissuade them. Then she imagined herself safely installed in the Richardsons’ kingdom, half obscured in the background, keeping watch over her daughter. Reasserting her presence in her daughter’s life.

Related Characters: Mia Warren (speaker), Pearl Warren, Mrs. Richardson / Elena
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

Mia thought suddenly of those moments at the restaurant, after the dinner rush had ended and things were quiet, when Bebe sometimes rested her elbows on the counter and drifted away. Mia understood exactly where she drifted to. To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all existed at once. It was a place you could take refuge, if you knew how to get in. And each time you left it, each time your child passed out of your sight, you feared you might never be able to return to that place again.

Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

“I believe in knowing where your roots lie. That kind of thing shapes your identity so much.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Richardson / Elena (speaker), Pearl Warren
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

It had been a long time since her daughter had let her be so close. Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.

Related Characters: Mia Warren (speaker), Pearl Warren
Page Number: 248
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

Since the visit to the clinic, Pearl had felt a strange sense of reversal: as if, while she and Lexie slept under the same roof, Lexie had somehow taken her place and she’d taken Lexie’s and they had not quite disentangled.

Related Characters: Pearl Warren (speaker), Lexie Richardson
Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:
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Little Fires Everywhere PDF

Pearl Warren Character Timeline in Little Fires Everywhere

The timeline below shows where the character Pearl Warren appears in Little Fires Everywhere. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...at her rental house on Winslow Road. The tenants, Mia Warren and her teenaged daughter Pearl Warren, had left in the night, and Mrs. Richardson watched with a sense of relief... (full context)
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...“she acts mental.” Meanwhile everyone has seemingly forgotten about the sudden departure of Mia and Pearl Warren. As Mr. Richardson approaches in his BMW, Trip predicts that their parents will institutionalize... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...narrative flashes back in time to the previous June. Mia Warren and her fifteen-year-old daughter Pearl have just moved into the Richardsons’ “little” rental property on Winslow Road. Mrs. Richardson and... (full context)
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...governed by many unspoken ways and rules, often both strict and obscure. As Mia and Pearl settle in, they begin to learn the rules. They must write the word Up following... (full context)
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Along with the more stringent, off-putting rules, Mia and Pearl begin to learn the “more welcoming things” about their new neighborhood. They start to memorize... (full context)
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...be “more careful” in choosing a tenant this time around, and settled on Mia and Pearl in part because she wanted Pearl, a bright girl in all AP and honors classes,... (full context)
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...a young girl living in the rental house, and, a few days after Mia and Pearl move in, he rides his bike over to the property to introduce himself. He is... (full context)
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Moody helps Pearl bring the bed frame inside and watches as she assembles it. Mia brings them a... (full context)
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As Pearl recounts her and her mother’s itinerant lives and all the places they’ve lived, Moody can’t... (full context)
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Moody has the sudden realization that he is infatuated with Pearl, and that his life has been “divided into a before and an after.” He eagerly... (full context)
Chapter 3
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“The next few weeks” are, for Moody, “a series of tomorrows” as Pearl and Moody develop a deep friendship. Moody shows her the best local spots, including those... (full context)
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As Pearl learns more about Moody and Shaker Heights, Moody also learns more about Pearl and Mia... (full context)
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...takes on a part-time job — or jobs — to make enough for her and Pearl to “get by,” but Pearl “underst[ands] the hierarchy; her mother’s real work [is] her art,... (full context)
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...sell for “two or three thousand dollars [apiece,]” but sometimes they don’t sell at all. Pearl believes that someday her mother will be famous, which is why she “d[oesn’t] mind the... (full context)
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Pearl continues describing to Moody “what [her and Mia’s] life on the road is like.” Moody... (full context)
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On her first visit, Pearl notes that the Richardsons’ house is large, pristine, and dreamlike, and the family seems to... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Pearl quickly becomes a regular fixture at the Richardsons’ house, and feels enveloped and accepted right... (full context)
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...full of trinkets and souvenirs from far-off places, accrued through years of family vacations, and Pearl is amazed by how embedded their family is in their home. The affectionate and fascinating... (full context)
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...burgeoning “infatuation” with the Richardson family. At first she is happy and grateful to see Pearl making friends, especially with the sensitive Moody. Mia feels guilty for having made Pearl live... (full context)
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At school, Pearl and Moody are in almost all of the same classes. Moody guides Pearl through her... (full context)
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Lexie asks Pearl, in the middle of another Jerry Springer episode—this time, about paternity—who her real father is.... (full context)
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That night, back at home, Pearl asks her mother if she was wanted as a baby. Mia begins crying, which shocks... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Lexie begins to take a shine to Pearl, though both Lexie and Lexie’s friend Serena note that Pearl seems to be “trying not... (full context)
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...guise of being bored by everything at the mall, and thinking everything looks “the same,” Pearl directs Lexie to the local thrift shop, where she teaches Lexie how to shop for... (full context)
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Trip also begins to talk to Pearl more and more, much to her delight and embarrassment. He compliments her outfits, telling her... (full context)
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...told to stay out of the house during the day. Lexie invites herself over to Pearl’s house, and though Pearl is reluctant to have visitors, she agrees. Lexie drives Pearl and... (full context)
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Pearl offers to write Lexie’s application essay for her, and Lexie is overjoyed. Moody seems irritated... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Pearl completes Lexie’s essay within a week. Both Mia and Moody are “uneasy” that Lexie has... (full context)
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...and Moody are not invited to the party, as they’re underclassmen. Moody is disappointed that Pearl will be ditching him, but Pearl promises him that they will spend the following weekend... (full context)
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...of them sneak off to have sex for the first time in Lexie’s car, while Pearl waits alone in the kitchen for any sign of Trip. When she’s unable to find... (full context)
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Shortly thereafter, Moody arrives in his mother’s car to pick Pearl up. He is disappointed in her behavior, tells her that Trip couldn’t help her home... (full context)
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...home” in the middle of the night. Lexie feels different, and afterwards looks different to Pearl, who feels that everything Lexie does from this point on is “tinged with sex.” For... (full context)
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...offer, wary at first but then genuinely excited at the chance to reinsert herself into Pearl’s daily life and to see what she’s up to when she’s at the Richardsons’. She... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...a week, and to prepare their dinners each night, for three hundred dollars a month. Pearl is privately angry that her mother will intrude on her relationship with the Richardsons, and... (full context)
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...the trash and keep on their shelves. Mia also observes changes in her daughter, as Pearl picks up phrases and gestures from each of the Richardsons. (full context)
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...in the suburban Midwest,” reveals her plan to toilet paper Mrs. Peters’s house. However, Moody, Pearl, and Mia advise against it. Mia recalls a student at her own high school having... (full context)
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Moody, Pearl, and Izzy “immobilize” their high school in under ten minutes by inserting toothpicks into every... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...the house on Winslow every day after school to work as Mia’s photography assistant. Meanwhile, Pearl does the “exact reverse,” accompanying Moody home to lounge in the living room with him,... (full context)
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On a class trip to an art museum in the middle of November, Pearl and Moody step into a special exhibit called “Madonna and Child.” There they encounter a... (full context)
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Lexie drives Pearl and Moody back to the Richardson house, where Mia is preparing the Richardsons’ dinner while... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...a birthday party thrown by their friends, the McCulloughs. Moody and Izzy want to invite Pearl, but Mrs. Richardson refuses, telling them that “Pearl is not part of the family.” The... (full context)
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...get attached or involved, Mia decides, after careful reflection upon her own close relationship with Pearl, to help Bebe. She has a “sense of what she [is] starting,” feeling the sensation... (full context)
Chapter 10
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On Tuesday evening, Pearl and Mia’s doorbell rings, and someone knocks frantically at the door. Bebe Chow has arrived,... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...end, Mrs. Richardson next plans to attack her research from another point of view: through Pearl. (full context)
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...is admitted to Yale and, to celebrate, Mrs. Richardson offers to take Lexie, Izzy, and Pearl out for a fancy girls’ lunch. Pearl is surprised by the invitation, but Mrs. Richardson... (full context)
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...where the Richardsons go “for very special occasions,” Mrs. Richardson carefully steers the conversation to Pearl’s heritage. She asks where Pearl was born and where else she’s lived, preying on Pearl’s... (full context)
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Mrs. Richardson, working off of the information obtained from Pearl, contacts the San Francisco Office of Vital Records, and requests a copy of Pearl’s birth... (full context)
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...Lexie side with the McCulloughs, as does Mr. Richardson, while Moody and Izzy, inspired by Pearl and Mia, take Bebe’s side. Lexie and Brian also argue amongst themselves about May Ling—Brian’s... (full context)
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...now, is “dangerous.” Her thoughts circle back to Mia, who lives a disorderly life, “dragging” Pearl from place to place, and “heedlessly throwing sparks” throughout Shaker Heights. Fuming over the fact... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Pearl feels that everything around her lately is “saturated with sex.” The Lewinsky scandal has just... (full context)
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Pearl arrives at the Richardson household one afternoon to find it empty except for Trip. She... (full context)
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That night, Pearl is relieved to find that Mia doesn’t seem to notice anything is different, though Pearl... (full context)
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Pearl feigns normalcy throughout the school day, both excited and afraid to run into Trip in... (full context)
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Once at Tim Michaels’s house, Pearl feels guilty, remembering that Moody will be waiting for her outside the science wing at... (full context)
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...him who the new “mystery” girl is as Trip sneaks off every day to meet Pearl at Tim’s house. Though Pearl longs to tell Lexie, she knows that the whole school... (full context)
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The night before the appointment, and before her mother leaves for Pittsburgh, Lexie calls Pearl and tells her that she “need[s]” her—she is having an abortion. Pearl is in disbelief,... (full context)
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At the abortion clinic, Lexie gives the receptionist Pearl’s name—she has made the appointment for herself under Pearl Warren. Furthermore, she tells the receptionist... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Once in San Francisco, Mia settles into an apartment and soon gives birth to Pearl. She names her daughter after the child in The Scarlet Letter—Pearl, like her namesake, has... (full context)
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Pearl is only three weeks old when Mal calls Mia to tell her that Pauline has... (full context)
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...a package arrives for Mia— there are ten signed prints inside, all of Mia and Pearl, along with a note from Pauline stating that her art dealer, Anita Rees, will sell... (full context)
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...With that, Mia packs up her apartment in San Francisco to seek inspiration elsewhere, with Pearl by her side, cooing “as if she were sure that they [are] headed for great... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...and is “having trouble processing what ha[s] just happened.” Though the plan had been for Pearl to drive Lexie back to the Richardson house, Pearl, realizing Lexie is in “no condition”... (full context)
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When Pearl arrives at the house on Winslow with a weakened Lexie in tow, Mia is shocked,... (full context)
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...noodle soup. Lexie tells Mia that none of this was “supposed to happen,” just as Pearl arrives home to check on Lexie. A few minutes later, Izzy arrives for her afternoon... (full context)
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The next morning, Lexie wakes up to find Mia gone, and Pearl home eating breakfast. Lexie is feeling better. She asks where Mia slept the night before,... (full context)
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Lexie sleeps some more after Pearl leaves for school. In the afternoon, Mia comes home to work on her photos. Lexie... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...follow-up appointment at the clinic, and asks Mia to accompany her. Mia is surprised, but Pearl feels that there has been a reversal between herself and Lexie ever since Lexie’s abortion.... (full context)
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...home and finds Izzy there—she tells him that Mia is working at Lucky Palace, despite Pearl having told him that they were working together on a photography project at home. Moody... (full context)
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Pearl, later that afternoon, goes to the Richardsons’ to talk to Moody. She attempts to apologize,... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...Mrs. Richardson, miffed that Elizabeth implied she was “unethical,” snoops through the records. She finds Pearl’s name in the appointments and is unable to think of anything else throughout her lunch... (full context)
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...is tying up the loose ends of the case, and she is reporting on it. Pearl does not learn the news until she arrives home from her afternoon with Trip to... (full context)
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...evening, and right away heads upstairs to confront Moody. When she begins questioning him about Pearl and “the baby,” Moody is at first confused, and then tells her snidely that Pearl... (full context)
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...of her children.” She wonders over and over what she should do. Rather than confront Pearl or Trip, she leaves work and drives to the house on Winslow to confront Mia... (full context)
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...asks Mrs. Richardson why she’s doing all of this, Mrs. Richardson tells her to ask Pearl. (full context)
Chapter 19
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That afternoon, as Pearl settles in for seventh period, she thinks of her plans to meet Trip after school,... (full context)
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When Pearl leaves the building, she sees her mother’s car parked outside—Mia is waiting for her. Mia... (full context)
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Back at the house on Winslow, Pearl tearfully packs her belongings—in Shaker, the two of them have “acquired more things than ever... (full context)
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Mia finishes telling Pearl the “outline” of her past, knowing that the details will “trickle out” over later months... (full context)
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...Bebe is still inside, but Mia tells her she has gone home. Izzy asks if Pearl is home—she has been trying to catch up with Pearl all day, after failing to... (full context)
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Mia and Pearl continue packing, the familiarity of leaving making the act almost automatic. While Pearl packs up... (full context)
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...home, she finds the house empty. Moody and Trip were home earlier; they fought over Pearl verbally and then physically. Trip left for a friend’s house, while Moody headed to a... (full context)
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Izzy tells Moody that she knows Pearl didn’t have an abortion. She tries to think of whether Pearl had acted unusual at... (full context)
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...house, where she confronts Lexie about her abortion. Izzy tells Lexie that Mrs. Richardson thinks Pearl had the abortion. Lexie thinks this is “funny,” and tells Izzy that Pearl “didn’t mind”... (full context)
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...Lexie is at Serena’s, Trip has gone to play basketball, and Moody has gone to Pearl’s house to apologize. Izzy believes her mother is at the rec center, swimming laps. Overwhelmed... (full context)
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Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...it onto Lexie’s bed as she plans to attempt to catch up with Mia and Pearl. (full context)
Chapter 20
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...to the rental house, Mrs. Richardson is seized by the fear that perhaps Mia and Pearl haven’t left after all, or, worse, that Mia has desecrated the place in order to... (full context)
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Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...from the hard shell.” Moody’s photo features origami birds made from the torn pages of Pearl’s notebook. Mr. Richardson’s features his metal collar stays, shirt accessories which define and support a... (full context)
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The narrative flashes back to the previous night, when Pearl drops the keys to the duplex into the Richardsons’ mailbox. She then rejoins Mia in... (full context)
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Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
At the same time as Mia and Pearl cross into Iowa, and the Richardsons gather at the duck pond near their burned house,... (full context)