In the book’s final chapters, Frank breaks into Angus’s office and discovers what he thinks are his genitals preserved in a jar. Seeing what he believes to be his own testicles preserved like this presents Frank with the fullness of his loss. The missing genitals represent more than a physical injury—to Frank, they represent a stolen future. His vision of himself as a man is different than who he currently is, and has the potential to be. However, in the final chapters Angus smashes the jar, revealing the genitals to be clay. Frank was born Frances and never had any male genitals to begin with. The destruction of the jar then becomes the end of the lie that was Frances’s life, freeing Frances to live a life as a woman if she chooses to.
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Specimen Jar appears in The Wasp Factory. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11: The Prodigal