The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace ends with Robert Peace’s high school friends releasing paper lanterns into the night sky on what would have been Robert’s thirty-first birthday. As Jeff Hobbs describes this emotional moment, it becomes clear that the scene is taking on symbolic meaning. Robert—a promising, ambitious young man—had a brief, meteoric life. He “burned bright” with success, but some bad choices, along with the injustices of law and order in America, led to his early death. So in some ways, the paper lanterns symbolize Robert’s own life—and the lives of many other promising youths who grow up in underprivileged families.
Paper Lanterns Quotes in The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
At a certain point, the lights disappeared from view beyond the trees and eaves of the neighboring homes, leaving the Burger Boyz to sit down once again in the plastic fold-out chairs and wonder how long it would be before the flames flickered out and the lanterns began their descent. And once that happened, they wondered where each would fall.