Seventy-Two Derwents

by

Cate Kennedy

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Derwent Pencils Symbol Analysis

Derwent Pencils Symbol Icon

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

The Seventy-Two Derwents quotes below all refer to the symbol of Derwent Pencils. 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:
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Read How You Want edition of Seventy-Two Derwents published in 2013.
Seventy-Two Derwents Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Ellie (speaker), Tyler, Shane
Related Symbols: Derwent Pencils
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

Related Characters: Tyler (speaker), Tyler and Ellie’s Mother
Related Symbols: Derwent Pencils
Page Number: 248
Explanation and Analysis:
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Derwent Pencils Symbol Timeline in Seventy-Two Derwents

The timeline below shows where the symbol Derwent Pencils appears in Seventy-Two Derwents. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Seventy-Two Derwents
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Repression Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...that she doesn’t have or want a boyfriend—what she wants is a set of seventy-two Derwent artist’s pencils. Her friend Georgia from school has a set, and Tyler describes their high... (full context)
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
...birthday, Tyler’s grandmother gives her a tin of colored pencils, but they are not the Derwents. Tyler compares their cheap, fragile quality to the Derwents’ durability. Her mother promises that they’ll... (full context)
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Power and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Repression Theme Icon
Trust Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...feels like she has stones in her stomach. Ellie responds by promising to buy her Derwent pencils someday. (full context)
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Power and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Trust Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...her mother to drive her to the mall so she can try to buy individual Derwents. Their car has become unsafe since Shane attempted to repair it, but Tyler’s mother dismisses... (full context)
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Repression Theme Icon
...earned and buys donuts for Tyler and herself. Tyler wishes her mother bought her a Derwent pencil instead of a donut. The car won’t start in the parking lot, which prompts... (full context)
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Power and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...“whole stomach [is] full of stones now gritting heavy together.” She tries to think of Derwent pencils. (full context)
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Power and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Trust Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...a “student of the week” badge her mother won in her sewing class. Thinking of Derwent pencils to steel herself, Tyler walks into the living room to confront Shane. (full context)
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Power and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Repression Theme Icon
Trust Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
Tyler now addresses her journal to Mrs Carlyle, explaining that she’s writing using the Derwent pencils she received from Ellie as a Christmas gift. She reveals that her mother offered... (full context)