Little Fires Everywhere

by

Celeste Ng

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Themes and Colors
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Little Fires Everywhere, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Order vs. Disruption

Shaker Heights, Ohio, the real town in which Little Fires Everywhere takes place, was one of the very first planned communities in the United States. When the plans for its development were created in the early 1900s, they were laid out with a motto in mind: “Most communities just happen; the best are planned.” Planning completely rules the world of Little Fires Everywhere, since order, as Celeste Ng describes it, allows one to “avoid…

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Altruism and Manipulation

In a novel where there are no real villains or antagonists, almost all of the malevolence—intentional or accidental—comes from failed or false altruism, and the manipulative instincts behind it. Altruism, or concern for and devotion to the welfare of others, is supposedly at the heart of many of the actions that the characters in Little Fires Everywhere carry out. Mrs. Richardson gives her new tenant, Mia Warren, a job as a housekeeper in her…

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Mothers and Daughters

Celeste Ng’s fascination with the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships is evident throughout Little Fires Everywhere. The fathers of the novel are often on the fringes of the action, while mothers and their daughters are brought to the forefront. The mothers in this novel are shown to need their daughters just as much as the daughters need them—and more often than not, even moreso. Overall Ng makes the rather cynical argument that most relationships…

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Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience

Little Fires Everywhere is a book that makes deep and difficult inquiries into what, exactly, makes up a person’s identity. Throughout the novel, Ng again and again makes the argument that identity is not easily sought or discovered. Her characters struggle to identify themselves internally from one another through the places they were born and raised, the people who raised them and loved them from afar, the families they were given or chose, and the…

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