The Derwent pencils that Tyler pines for throughout the story symbolize the open-ended potential of the future. Tyler is a talented amateur artist who enjoys sketching. Her teachers recognize this talent as something that makes her stand out from other children her age; however, since her mother sees no point to pursuing it, Tyler is not given the resources necessary to develop her potential. Consequently, she becomes fixated on the Derwent-brand colored pencils her friend Georgia owns and the creative possibilities they offer. She dwells at length on their craftsmanship: the pencils’ durability sharply contrasts to the instability and insecurity of her life at home, and the fact that they can be cleanly sharpened whenever they go dull seems to promise unlimited new beginnings. When Shane tries to violently attack Tyler, the first thing she thinks of is the pencils’ richly evocative names (such as “scarlet lake” or “oriental blue”), showing how the thought of exploring the Derwents’ vast spectrum of colors and shades offers her a mental escape from a present over which she has little control. Moreover, Tyler has few opportunities to express herself openly, and is often forced to provide the answers which adult authority figures like her mother and Shane want to hear in order to keep the peace at home. The Derwent pencils implicitly promise the possibility of autonomous self-expression: they are a tool with which Tyler could someday express herself creatively on her own terms, free from adult interference. In this sense, they channel Tyler’s hopes for a different kind of life. It’s also fitting that the person who buys the pencils for Tyler at the end of the story is her sister Ellie, who desperately wants a better life for herself (hence her dedication to school and part-time job) and for her beloved little sister Tyler. In finally buying Tyler the pencils once Shane is out of the picture, Ellie seems to be sending the message to Tyler that she is free to step into a new beginning and a new life.
Derwent Pencils Quotes in Seventy-Two Derwents
I didn’t know Ellie has bad dreams too. Sometimes I dream of a wolf. He’s coming for me and his eyes are on fire and he’s looking everywhere for me but he can’t find me. I don’t tell Ellie about this but I say sometimes I feel like I have a stone inside my stomach. Ellie doesn’t say anything for a while then she says, hey, what are those pencils called that you like? I tell her Derwents and she says we’ll get you those, you wait.
My pencils have student quality written on the packet but the Derwent pencils are for real artists and that is why they’re special. I would feel special and proud to have them, like when Aunty Jacinta wrote in her letter, we think you’re wonderful.