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When Toby, Cal and his family release the ladybugs at the end of the novel “When Zachary Beaver Came to Town” is an important part of the book because this action symbolizes releasing fears and heartaches and worry and carrying on with life. The releasing of the ladybugs symbolizes ‘freedom’ and ‘letting go’ and moving ahead constructively in one’s life, no matter how hard it is to do sometimes. This action at the end of the novel is like a fresh start for Toby, Cal and his family.
First of all, the people who were involved with the visit of Zachary Beaver to town have learned to release their discrimination, and to stop looking down upon people with physical disabilities or issues, such as Zachary’s obesity. Getting to know Zachary Beaver, and seeing that he is a real human being with feelings, wants and desires, has enabled Cal, Toby and others to release their fears of associating with someone like Zachary.
Second, the releasing of the ladybugs into the sky has a spiritual, healing aspect to it as well. It’s a releasing of sorrow about Wayne’s death in Vietnam. While this death will always be with them, the releasing of the ladybugs conveys that those who loved Wayne will not be held hostage by his death. They will deal with it and move on, as the ladybugs represent the innate human desire to survive and make the best of life’s tragedies. The ladybugs, in essence, represent human beings soaring to new heights after overcoming adversity.
Third, the releasing action also symbolizes a release for Toby and Cal from the innocence of childhood. They have grown up more through the ordeal concerning Wayne’s death and also their association with Zachary Beaver. This includes being part of Zachary Beaver’s baptism at Gossimer Lake. They are beginning to see the world differently, so this releasing is like they are releasing their youth, somewhat, and beginning the road to full adulthood.
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