Little Plastic Shipwreck

by

Cate Kennedy

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Little Plastic Shipwreck can help.

The Snowdome Symbol Analysis

The Snowdome Symbol Icon

The snowdome, which Roley presents to his wife Liz as a present, symbolizes the arbitrariness and fragility of human life. The snowdome is one of several cheap plastic objects (“worthless junk”) that Roley essentially steals on his way out of Oceanworld after having quit his job. When Liz holds it passively instead of shaking it, Roley is confronted with the full extent of the change in his wife. Her failure to interact with this simple child’s toy causes him to grimly reflect that “what they should put in [snowdomes] is a little brain, something to knock around uselessly in that bubble of fluid while […] some big hand somewhere just kept on shaking.” Here, Kennedy draws a comparison between the flimsy, simple snowdome and the human skull, which houses the brain in a “bubble of fluid,” much like the inside of a snowdome. In comparing the human brain to this piece of mass-produced “worthless junk,” Kennedy strips the brain of its complexity and miraculousness. Through this comparison, she suggests that human beings, too, are “worthless” and easily breakable, as Liz’s accident has demonstrated. Furthermore, the “big hand” that “kept on shaking” calls to mind the idea that human lives are subject to a cruel overriding randomness. This is an idea that has deep roots in literature: In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Gloucester laments “As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods,/ They kill us for their sport.” (Act 4, Scene 1) Kennedy’s reference to “some big hand” is an even more nihilistic metaphor than Shakespeare’s: while there is at least something majestic about the idea of “gods at sport,” the shaking of a snowdome—a child’s toy—is a careless and inane gesture. Kennedy thus degrades not only the value of the human brain, but of life itself, suggesting that there are no mysterious laws governing our existence, just cruel chance.

The Snowdome Quotes in Little Plastic Shipwreck

The Little Plastic Shipwreck quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Snowdome. 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:

“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

The Snowdome Symbol Timeline in Little Plastic Shipwreck

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Snowdome appears in Little Plastic Shipwreck. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Little Plastic Shipwreck
Hierarchy, Authority, and Compassion Theme Icon
Artifice vs. Reality Theme Icon
...(“worthless junk”) from the gift shop, calling it his “severance pay,” including a couple of snowdomes. He thinks again about Samson’s “merry eye,” and his gaze “holding Roley’s own” during the... (full context)
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Artifice vs. Reality Theme Icon
...eyebrows knowingly, ironically; a look long gone.” Cheerfully, he presents her with one of the snowdomes, saying “I got you this.” She is the “first person he’[s] ever seen cradling one... (full context)