Little Plastic Shipwreck

by

Cate Kennedy

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Liz Character Analysis

Liz is Roley’s wife. Sometime before the timeframe of the story, she was handing around a tray of food at a friend’s party, fell off the unfinished deck, and hit her head on a rock. Readers know very little about her before the accident, save Roley’s description of her as his “lovely, witty wife.” Similarly, the extent of her brain damage is revealed only through Roley’s observations. He remarks that she appears to have lost all will or desire. She responds to his queries with empty, vague statements and cannot find the words for objects. Liz is also highly dependent: Roley quits his night-job when Liz’s rehabilitation therapist informs him that it “makes her nervous” to wake up when he’s not there. Without having Liz’s own perspective in the story, the reader’s perception of her hinges on other characters’ observations, and she becomes an object of pity, but also of mystery: the lack of information that surrounds her creates a conspicuous absence in the story where her character should be.

Liz Quotes in Little Plastic Shipwreck

The Little Plastic Shipwreck quotes below are all either spoken by Liz or refer to Liz. 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:
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribe Publications edition of Little Plastic Shipwreck published in 2012.
Little Plastic Shipwreck Quotes

They hadn't taken any of her brain out, the doctors had explained to Roley; they were definite on that point. They'd put her in an induced coma until the brain swelling went down, then somehow pieced those sections of her skull back together. How did they do it? Riveting? Gluing? Roley had no idea. He imagined them with a tiny Black & Decker, a wisp of smoke rising, putting in a neat line of holes then stitching it with wire.

Related Characters: Roley (speaker), Liz
Related Symbols: The Snowdome
Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:

Roley had a theory that the reason visitors loved Samson so much was that he was the only creature at the aquarium who seemed to be able to create a facial expression, apart from the sea-lion Rex, whose eyes were so fogged over with milky-blue cataracts […] The turtles were totally vacant—they had the hateful, icy glare of an old drunk—and of course the fish had no expression whatsoever. Just looked at you as they cruised past, a vegetable with fins. No short-term memory, that's what Kaz said when he told her his theory. “That's the cliche, right?” she said, tapping the glass of one of the tanks. “Nothing going on. You put one in a fishbowl, and they start swimming around in circles, and every time it's like: Look, a little plastic shipwreck! Five seconds later: Look, a little plastic shipwreck!

Related Characters: Roley (speaker), Samson, Liz
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

Sometimes at night he'd feel Liz's hand land uncertainly on him and graze back and forth. Like seagrass on a current, it felt to him, and just as random. He'd take her hand and imagine silvery bubbles escaping from their mouths, floating up towards the ceiling fan, him keeping his breaths measured and even.

Related Characters: Roley (speaker), Liz
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

They'd stepped through the sliding doors barred pointlessly with two chairs because the thing had no railing, and his lovely, witty wife, looking for a way to help out, had taken a heavy platter out there to pass around and, turning round to answer someone's stupid question, had stepped straight off the edge of the deck, falling to the ground below.

[…] “Nobody's fault,” Roley kept saying, breathing fast through his mouth, panting, he couldn't help it […] and every time he circled the stunned minute of what had happened, it hit him afresh, obliterating everything else so he had to learn it again, piece by piece.

Related Characters: Roley (speaker), Liz
Page Number: 193-194
Explanation and Analysis:

Roley looked at Samson's grey flank, noticing the nicks and cuts on it, the marks and old scars. He thought, sick with grief, about the way his wife's fingers sought out the small secret place under her hair where there was a tiny dent, still. He laid his hand on that flank, feeling its muscle, and he heard the moment waiting, and said into it, “You fucking do it.”

Related Characters: Roley (speaker), Samson, Liz, Declan
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

“I’m home early,” he said.

“Are you?” she replied.

“Can I get you anything?” he said, emptying his pockets onto the dining-room table, watching her stop and consider, slow as a tide turning.

“No,” she said finally, “there's nothing I want,” and Roley thought, that's right, there's nothing: want was what they had taken out of her, back when they were assuring him nothing was removed.

Related Characters: Roley (speaker), Liz
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:

“Here,” he said cheerfully, “I got you this.” He gave her one of the snowdomes, and as she held it he realised she was the first person he'd ever seen cradling one and not shaking it. She just held it obediently with that emptied, passive face, gazing at the plastic penguins inside.

What they should put in them, thought Roley, is a little brain, something to knock around uselessly in that bubble of fluid as snow swirled down ceaselessly and never stopped, while some big hand somewhere just kept on shaking.

Related Characters: Roley (speaker), Liz
Related Symbols: The Snowdome
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Little Plastic Shipwreck LitChart as a printable PDF.
Little Plastic Shipwreck PDF

Liz Character Timeline in Little Plastic Shipwreck

The timeline below shows where the character Liz appears in Little Plastic Shipwreck. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Little Plastic Shipwreck
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Roley recalls the moment when his wife, Liz, returned from the hospital after the accident she suffered. She seemed “cautious” and “fearful,” walking... (full context)
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...did you in,” Roley thinks. The worst part wasn’t the “shaved head,” the “blanket stitch,” Liz’s “black eyes,” or even the “spreading bruise on her forehead” by the “spot where the... (full context)
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Upon arriving home, Liz “had a hard time even finding the word for mirror.” Roley occasionally catches her running... (full context)
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Hierarchy, Authority, and Compassion Theme Icon
...afternoon. Previously, he’d had a well-paid job working night shifts at a munitions plant, but Liz’s rehab therapist said that it made Liz anxious to wake up at night to find... (full context)
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
These days, Roley “gently [wakes] [Liz] and [gets] her sorted” before work. At Oceanworld, his duties include breaking “shards of packed... (full context)
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Artifice vs. Reality Theme Icon
Liz’s accident occurred at a friend’s party where they were celebrating the installation of a new... (full context)
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Artifice vs. Reality Theme Icon
As he enters into the house, Roley announces that he’s home early, and Liz responds, “are you?” He asks her if he can get her anything and she says,... (full context)