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
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.
“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.