Discuss the use of bird imagery in The Girl Who Fell from the Sky.  Durrow uses a lot of bird imagery in the Jamie's/Brick's narrative, but also in places later in the book.  How might we...

Discuss the use of bird imagery in The Girl Who Fell from the Sky.  Durrow uses a lot of bird imagery in the Jamie's/Brick's narrative, but also in places later in the book.  How might we interpret that imagery?  Why is this imagery so prevalent?  You may use material from any part(s) of the book to discuss this metaphor.

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To begin a discussion on this topic, we first have to realize that birds can travel wherever they will at any moment due to use of their wings.  Rachel travels, too:  to Chicago, to Oregon, to many places where she learns race has great meaning.  Through her travels, though, bird imagery takes on a more important symbolism:  the symbolism of dreams.

The imagery is prevalent precisely because birds can escape and be free of anything that ails them:  they can fly away at any moment.  In all of the hardships Rachel faces, she often wishes for these very qualities.  Birds, then, end up symbolizing Rachel's dreams and hopes.  Rachel dreams and hopes she can find a way to fit in.  Rachel dreams and hopes she won't be weighed down by sadness at the loss of her family.  Rachel dreams and hopes she can find a true friend and a true love.  Even though this quotation doesn't mention birds precisely, it is full of bird imagery:

Grandma sees these things when she talks about them and gestures with her hands like she's painting brush strokes in the air. The way Grandma paints her dreams for me, there's a low sky.

Why is the "low sky" here important for Rachel?  Because, as a bird, Rachel feels like she can "reach" and/or "fly into" the "low sky" that her grandmother paints.  Here Rachel feels like her hopes and dreams are attainable. 

In conclusion, even the reference to Rachel's mother's and sibling's deaths can apply to the symbolism of birds as hopes and dreams.  When Rachel's mother and siblings fall, they look like birds at first.  Here it looks as though Rachel's hopes and dreams have died.  Ironically, Rachel is the bird that has escaped death and can, eventually, pursue her own dreams to "fly."

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The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

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