David Almond uses many symbols in his novel Skellig. Explain the use of the owls.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The owls in this moving and impressive novel seem to act as a symbol fo the way that nature naturally shows love and care. Let us remember that the owls feed Skellig, and draw attention to it by their hooting. What is really interesting about this is the way in which Michael and Mina themselves mimic this hooting in the same way to draw attention to their goodness. Consider the end of Chapter Sixteen, when Michael returns to his house, but hears the hooting of the owls. His response is rather interesting:

I looked into the sky over the gardens and saw the owls heading homeward on great silent wings. I put my hands together and blew into the gap between my thumbs.

Hoot. hoot hoot hoot.

The way in which Michael and Mina themselves copy the owls by making the same noise seems to suggest a special kind of unity that they feel with the owls. They, like the owls, have learnt something about sacrificial love and the need to care for another without hope of receiving anything in return. Thus the owls seem to act as a symbol of natural goodness or care that the children themselves learn from.

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