The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Narrator Character Analysis

The novel is written from the point of view of an omniscient narrator. Though the narrator is not a character in any of the stories, and never speaks in the first person, his (presumably the narrator is male because the author is, but this is never stated) frequent commentary about human nature and frequent interpretations of the actions of the characters give the narrator a strong, reflective voice.

Narrator Quotes in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The The Five People You Meet in Heaven quotes below are all either spoken by Narrator or refer to Narrator. 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:
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Hachette Books edition of The Five People You Meet in Heaven published in 2006.
Chapter 1 Quotes

It might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

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His plans never worked out (…) Like his father before him, like the patch on his shirt, Eddie was maintenance – the head of maintenance – or as kids sometimes called him, “the ride man at Ruby Pier.”

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie
Related Symbols: Ruby Pier
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

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For the rest of his life, whenever he thought of Marguerite, Eddie would see that moment, her waving over her shoulder, her dark hair falling over one eye, and he would feel the same arterial burst of love.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Marguerite
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

Later, she will walk him along the pier, perhaps take him on an elephant ride, or watch the fishermen pull in their evening nets, the fish flipping like shiny, wet coins. She will hold his hand and tell him God is proud of him for being a good boy on his birthday, and that will make the world feel right-side up again.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Eddie’s Mother
Page Number: 24-25
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

Young men go to war. Sometimes because they have to, sometimes because they want to. Always, they feel they are supposed to. This comes from the sad, layered stories of life, which over the centuries have seen courage confused with picking up arms, and cowardice confused with laying them down.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 14 Quotes

As always with Marguerite, Eddie mostly wants to freeze time.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Marguerite
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Eddie’s Father
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

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Eddie privately adored his father, because sons will adore their fathers through even the worst behavior. It is how they learn devotion. Before he can devote himself to God, or a woman, a boy will devote himself to his father, even foolishly, even beyond explanation.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Eddie’s Father
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 21 Quotes

How can he explain such sadness when she is supposed to make him happy? (…) She looks beautiful wearing the print dress Eddie likes, her hair and lips done up. Eddie feels the need to inhale, as if undeserving of such a moment. He fights the darkness within him. “Leave me alone,” he tells it. “Let me feel this way, I should feel it.”

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Marguerite
Related Symbols: Color and Darkness
Page Number: 118-119
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 23 Quotes

The old darkness has taken a seat alongside him. He is used to it by now, making room for it the way you make room for a commuter on a crowded bus.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie
Related Symbols: Color and Darkness
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 28 Quotes

What people find then is a certain love. And Eddie found a certain love with Marguerite, a grateful love, a deep and quiet love, but one that he knew, above all else, was irreplaceable. Once she’d gone (…) he put his heart to sleep.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Marguerite
Page Number: 155-156
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 30 Quotes

…Eddie admitted that some of his life he’d spent hiding from God, and the rest of the time he thought he went unnoticed.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, God
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 35 Quotes

He was nothing now, a leaf in the water, and she pulled him gently, through shadow and light, through shades of blue and ivory and lemon and black, and he realized all these colors, all along, were the emotions of his life.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Tala
Related Symbols: Color and Darkness
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 36 (Epilogue) Quotes

And in that line now was a whiskered old man (…) who waited in a place called the Stardust Band Shell to share his part of the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, “Amy or Annie”
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:

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Narrator Character Timeline in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The timeline below shows where the character Narrator appears in The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
The novel begins with an unnamed, omniscient narrator counting down the last sixty minutes until the death of the protagonist, Eddie. It is... (full context)
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
The narrator continues the countdown of minutes to Eddie’s death. With 30 minutes left to live, Eddie... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...to get off the dangerous boardwalk railing. Recounting another rumored story about Eddie’s youth, the narrator describes Eddie as a brave soldier who won many medals in war and came home... (full context)
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
...named Nicky lost his car key on one of the rides at Ruby Pier. The narrator comments regarding this incident that, “No story sits by itself.” (full context)
Chapter 8
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
...a road, retrieves it, and then returns to play arcade games with his friends. The narrator now recounts the same story, only from the perspective of the Blue Man. The Blue... (full context)
Chapter 13
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The narrator comments that young men sometimes go to war because they confuse battle with bravery. The... (full context)
Chapter 15
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
...Eddie thinks of how the bullet took away running, dancing, and feeling like himself. The narrator states that “war had crawled inside of Eddie, in his leg and his soul,” and... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
...to sleep the night before. They sit and then fidget for a while, and the narrator explains that they are both “waiting for the old man to come in and get... (full context)
Chapter 20
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The narrator summarizes Eddie’s memories of his parents. As a young child, Eddie tried to get his... (full context)
Chapter 23
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
...Pier, and Noel chides that Eddie isn’t very much fun, even on his birthday. The narrator comments that the darkness from the war still hangs over Eddie. Eddie continues thinking about... (full context)
Chapter 28
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...with foldable chairs and an accordion player. They walked home together afterward, holding hands. The narrator explains that with Marguerite, Eddie found a “deep but quiet love.” After Marguerite died, he... (full context)