The Shack

by

William P. Young

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Sarayu Character Analysis

Sarayu fulfils the role of the “Holy Spirit” in the three-part version of God seen in the novel (the other parts being Jesus and Papa). Jesus explains to Mack that her name means “a common wind” in one human language. The exact nature of that role and even her specific characteristics are intentionally mysterious, and she seems to be the embodiment of some of the seemingly supernatural elements of God, such as his ability to be all-knowing and ever-present. She appears as an Asian woman with a shimmering, almost transparent cast to her body that makes her slightly difficult to look at. In part by taking him to a garden representing his wild yet ordered soul, Sarayu attempts to help Mack to understand the nature of his innermost spiritual self as well as how to comprehend and manage his feelings.

Sarayu Quotes in The Shack

The The Shack quotes below are all either spoken by Sarayu or refer to Sarayu. 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:
Independence from God Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Windblown Media edition of The Shack published in 2007.
Chapter 7 Quotes

So this was God in relationship? It was beautiful and so appealing. He knew that it didn’t matter whose fault it was—the mess from some bowl that had been broken, that a planned dish would not be shared. Obviously, what was truly important here was the love they had for one another and the fullness it brought them. He shook his head. How different this was from the way he sometimes treated the ones he loved!

Related Characters: Willie (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Papa/Elousia, Sarayu, Jesus
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

“What you’re seeing here is relationship without any overlay of power. We don’t need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us.”

Related Characters: Sarayu (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Papa/Elousia, Jesus
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

“Your question presumes that poison is bad, that such creations have no purpose. Many of these so-called bad plants, like this one, contain incredible properties for healing or are necessary for some of the most magnificent sonders when combined with something else. Humans have a great capacity for declaring something good or evil, without truly knowing.”

Related Characters: Sarayu (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips
Related Symbols: Gardens
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

“To be honest,” said Mack, “I tend to sound justifiably angry when somebody is threatening my ‘good,’ you know, what I think I deserve. But I’m not really sure I have any logical ground for deciding what is actually good or evil, except how something or someone affects me.”

Related Characters: Mackenzie Allen Phillips (speaker), Sarayu
Page Number: 136
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

Mack interrupted with a hand on her arm. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you, honey. It wasn’t your fault.” Kate sobbed as her father’s words penetrated her war-ravaged heart. “But I’ve always thought it was my fault.”

Related Characters: Mackenzie Allen Phillips (speaker), Kate (speaker), Sarayu, Missy
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Shack LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Shack PDF

Sarayu Character Timeline in The Shack

The timeline below shows where the character Sarayu appears in The Shack. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: The Great Sadness
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
FBI Officers, including Sam, who had identified the ladybug pin over the phone, arrive at the site. Sam and... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...woods, police dogs find an old two-room shack that had once belonged to a settler. Sam asks Mack to identify something they’ve found in the shack. Bolstered by Tommy on one... (full context)
Chapter 5: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Suddenly, a small Asian woman emerges and sweeps Mack’s tears into a small glass bottle. She gives him a sense... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...has many names but goes by Jesus to many. The second woman introduces herself as Sarayu, keeper of the gardens. Mack is confused by the three people, who do not match... (full context)
Chapter 7: God on the Dock
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...Papa’s feet and the hem of her skirt. But instead of fighting, Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu are all laughing uproariously. Jesus begins to clean Papa’s feet. Mack observes that the love... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...interested if they are already all-knowing, and therefore already know all about his family members. Sarayu explains that sometimes people limit themselves in order to facilitate a relationship. The three have... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...holy to Mack. He closes his eyes for a moment. Then, he goes to help Sarayu and Jesus wash and dry dishes in the kitchen. (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...in common. Jesus says that he offers a good way to relate to Papa and Sarayu, since he reflects them but is also human. He explains that Sarayu is the Holy... (full context)
Chapter 8: A Breakfast of Champions
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Jesus and Sarayu join them for breakfast, and Jesus, Sarayu, and Papa, enter into an intense conversation about... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...for any of that to happen, Mack must learn to trust that Papa loves him. Sarayu invites Mack out to the garden to continue their conversation. (full context)
Chapter 9: A Long Time Ago, in a Garden Far, Far Away
Independence from God Theme Icon
Mack follows Sarayu into a beautiful, seemingly disordered garden. She says that the garden follows a complicated pattern... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...the patch of ground, Mack asks if there really was a Garden of Eden, and Sarayu says there was. Mack says that will displease some people, but Sarayu does not mind. (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Sarayu returns to the issue of good and evil, asking Mack how he discerns between right... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...difficult to accept that certain things—like cancer or murder or loss of income—may be good. Sarayu says that children like Missy do not have a right to be protected, rather they... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Just then, Papa approaches and compliments their work. Sarayu says that the garden itself is actually Mack’s soul, beautiful, wild, and still in process.... (full context)
Chapter 12: In the Belly of the Beasts
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
...of Papa’s wisdom. She is not a separate persona of God but a part of Sarayu’s mystery. Mack and Jesus talk about whether any of the conversations at the cabin and... (full context)
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...alone and terrified in the truck. Jesus stops him and says Missy was never alone—he, Sarayu, and Papa were with her the whole time. Jesus says he and Missy talked during... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
...him on his life’s journey and help him to be less alone. Jesus says he, Sarayu, and Papa have been trying to show Mack the truth about Missy for a long... (full context)
Chapter 14: Verbs and Other Freedoms
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...cry as he thinks about the troubles of his daughter, Katie. Suddenly, he sees that Sarayu is sitting in the canoe with him. She says that dinner is soon and it’s... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
...of emotions, something that concerns him. He says he is afraid of bad emotions. But Sarayu says that emotions are neither good nor bad, but provide the color of the soul,... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...living in this way feels more complicated than simply following the rules in scripture. Laughing, Sarayu asks if those rules ever helped Mack in the past, and he admits that they... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Mack joins Sarayu, Jesus, and Papa at the table, where they openly talk and laugh with each other.... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Sarayu begins to explain that because of Jesus’s death, humans are no longer bound by the... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...Mack’s life, but rather at the center of everything. As they begin clearing the table, Sarayu asks if she can touch Mack’s eyes and heal them. She says she wants him... (full context)
Chapter 15: A Festival of Friends
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
...a group of adults. A last circle of even taller, blue flames forms behind them; Sarayu says they are angels. (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
...colorful but calm and subdued, but his light is unruly, flashing out spears of color. Sarayu explains that he is having difficulty controlling his feelings: the patterns of colorful light are... (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Sarayu says that the man having difficulty is Mack’s father. Overwhelmed with a mix of emotions,... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Still crying, Mack returns to Sarayu as Jesus emerges from the darkness, dressed in a white garment and gold crown. The... (full context)
Chapter 16: A Morning of Sorrows
The Nature of God Theme Icon
Sarayu gives Mack a tightly rolled pack, filled with aromatic flowers and herbs that Mack and... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
...come to a small body covered in a decaying sheet. Mack realizes the purpose of Sarayu’s gift, and unwraps the scented mat. Papa wraps Missy’s body inside, and they exit the... (full context)
Chapter 17: Choices of The Heart
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...scenes herself. They carefully place Missy in the box and fill it with flowers from Sarayu’s pack. (full context)
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Sarayu leads them outside to the space in the garden that Mack helped her clear the... (full context)
Independence from God Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
...says it’s a tough choice and asks if anything he does at home even matters. Sarayu says that it all matters, because he is important. If Mack forgives or performs an... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Grief and Emotion Theme Icon
Sarayu says she has one more gift for Mack. She tells him that Kate believes she... (full context)
After Words
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The Nature of God Theme Icon
...It will be a quiet revolution rooted in daily kindness that will connect everyone with Sarayu, Jesus, and Papa. (full context)