Throughout the novel, the ocean represents both destruction and new beginnings. Powerfully beautiful and yet dangerous, it is a constant at Ruby Pier. To Ruby, the ocean represents how ambition can turn into destruction: her husband, Emile, was captivated by the romance and opportunity of sea resorts, and became consumed with the effort of building Ruby Pier. When the park burned down, all of his dreams burned with it. The ocean is also where Eddie and Marguerite first fall in love, and years later it is there where they renew their love after it has faded. The ocean is also a constant reminder to Eddie of the world beyond, and his failure to leave Ruby Pier. While Eddie’s father dies from the pneumonia he catches during storm on the ocean, it is that same ocean storm which also gives him the chance to redeem himself by saving his friend, Mickey Shea, from drowning.
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Ocean appears in The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...died, and he is now floating through a series of vibrant changing colors and peaceful oceanic scenery, remembering his last moments. He wonders if he saved “Amy or Annie,” but suddenly... (full context)