At the end of "The Nightingale and the Rose," the Student rejects loves and returns to studying metaphysics. The book he opens is dusty, which suggests that no one has read it in a long time. This undercuts the Student's claim that in studying philosophy, he will be engaging directly with practical, real-world matters (in fact, it is the Nightingale who, in praising the joys of life, reveals herself to be deeply immersed in the world around her). The book thus symbolizes the hollowness of the intellectualism the Student espouses.
The The Nightingale and the Rose quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Dusty Book. 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: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet edition of The Nightingale and the Rose published in 2008.).
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Dusty Book appears in The Nightingale and the Rose. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Nightingale and the Rose