The Great Divorce

The Chessboard Symbol Analysis

The Chessboard Symbol Icon

At the end of the novel, the Narrator travels with George MacDonald to an enormous chessboard, across which chess pieces move constantly. As MacDonald explains, the chessboard symbolizes the universe as God sees it: predetermined, perfectly controlled, and yet utterly mysterious to human beings, who still act with free will within the system God has created.

The Chessboard Quotes in The Great Divorce

The The Great Divorce quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Chessboard. 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:
Dreams, Fantasy, and Education Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the HarperOne edition of The Great Divorce published in 0.
Chapter 14 Quotes

Ye saw the choices a bit more clearly than ye could see them on Earth: the lens was clearer. But it was still seen through the lens. Do not ask of a vision in a dream more than a vision in a dream can give.

Related Characters: George MacDonald (speaker), The Narrator
Related Symbols: The Chessboard
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Chessboard Symbol Timeline in The Great Divorce

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Chessboard appears in The Great Divorce. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 14
Dreams, Fantasy, and Education Theme Icon
Heaven, Hell, and the “Great Divorce” Theme Icon
...realizes that these “forms” are the souls of human beings. The souls are watching a chessboard, upon which there are chess pieces representing human beings as they appear to one another.... (full context)