The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

by

Jeffrey Hobbs

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Paper Lanterns Symbol Analysis

Paper Lanterns Symbol Icon

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

The The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace quotes below all refer to the symbol of Paper Lanterns. 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:
“Fronting” Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace published in 2014.
Chapter 17 Quotes

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.

Related Symbols: Paper Lanterns
Page Number: 401-402
Explanation and Analysis:
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Paper Lanterns Symbol Timeline in The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

The timeline below shows where the symbol Paper Lanterns appears in The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 17
“Fronting” Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Education and the School System Theme Icon
Privilege Theme Icon
Crime Theme Icon
Late that night, Robert’s old friends gather together and release tiny paper lanterns into the night. The lanterns float off into the distance, and Robert’s friends watch them... (full context)