Every layoff season, Roo brings Olive a kewpie doll. Kewpie dolls are collectible baby dolls that were created in 1912 and were immensely popular until the middle of the twentieth century. Olive sees the dolls as a symbol of Roo's love for her. However, the dolls also symbolize Olive's willful immaturity, as well as the immaturity of her relationship with Roo. Emma in particular deems them childish and Olive's love for them even more so. When Olive denies Roo's proposal of marriage and he destroys the seventeenth kewpie doll, he symbolically destroys their youthful relationship in his own mind. Destroying the kewpie doll allows Roo to truly grow up, while hanging onto the dolls keeps Olive from having to face the reality that the layoff seasons of her youth are over.
Kewpie Dolls Quotes in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll
No, they're not. Someone's taking special care. Other times they've been pretty, but this one's beautiful. You can see.
I started off trying to fix up what they broke. After that, I couldn't seem to stop. Emma always sez tryin' to shift heavy furniture on your own's a sign you're crooked on the world. Wonder what spring cleanin' at two o'clock in the morning means?
All right. But the least you can do is to see what you've got as it really is. Take a look at this place now you've pulled down the decorations—what's so wonderful about it? Nothing! It's just an ordinary little room that's a hell of a lot the worse for the wear. And if you'd only come out of your day dream long enough to take a grown up look at the lay off, that's what you'd find with the rest of it.