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Inspired to write The Fisher King after discovering a photograph of her own cousin named Sonny, Paule Marshall weaves a narrative to recreate and fictionally fulfill the life of the jazz saxophone player who died in his youth. In a sense, then, her cousin Sonny attains an familial identity through this fictional tale.
With family and its essential quality to one's full identity as thematic, Marshall symbolically conveys this theme as little Sonny draws a knight (himself) who guards a castle (the family, one's heritage). When Hattie brings Sonny to meet his Uncle Edgar and cousins, Sonny explains that his knight guards the castle because his injured grandfather, Sonny-Rett, is inside. As his head wounds heal, the figurative wounds of the breakage of family also mend as little Sonny gets to know his cousins and experiences heartfelt connections with them.
With this unifying of family and growing love among its members, quotations pulled from the novel could relate to such things as Sonny's fear of his great-grandmother turning to affection, his growing eagerness to be with his cousins who he perceives as part of him whereas earlier Hattie has been his "fathermothersisterbrother."
Here are some examples of quotations relevant to the theme discussed here:
Hattie understands perfectly well that “there’re all kinds of family and blood’s got nothing to do with it” (16)
“he always drew a miniature version of himself in full armor, his visor down, in the bottom right-hand corner of every drawing. Himself armed with a lance, a wicked-looking halberd, or a Sir Lancelot broadsword” (75).
When his great-uncle Edgar asks, “Kinda like your signature, eh?” (75), Sonny says yes, but, in truth, “he had never told anyone, not even Hattie or Madame Molineaux or Jean-Jacques, why he posted himself armed and in full armor on each page” (75)
Sonny begins to think of "the cousins as "his cousins " (146)
His cousin asks him "Can you maybe come back again tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after the day after after the day after that forever?" (174)
"His cousins nodded in perfect understanding" (175)
Edgar tries to convince Hattie to let Sonny stay in America with his family:
"Sometimes love...is as much about letting go as it is about holding on."
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