What is an example of symbolism in Chapter 12 of Gary D. Schmidt's novel Trouble?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Darkness is a recurring motif as well as a symbol found in Chapter 12 of Gary D. Schmidt's novel Trouble.

Darkness fills the chapter from the start, as hitchhikers Henry, Sanborn, and Black Dog are finally picked up in the deepening twilight by a truck driven by Chay. As Chay drives on, the narrator notes that there are "[n]o stars in the sky yet. No moon" (p. 156). When they reach Portland, Maine, the narrator also notes that the water of Casco Bay "shone black obsidian" (p. 159). All of this darkness serves to symbolize trouble and grief both Henry and Chay are suffering from.

The meaning of the symbol becomes clear as Henry and Chay enter into a heated conversation in the truck. At one point Henry tells Chay he "can't imagine" what Henry's mother sounds like as she grieves over Franklin's loss each night since his death (p. 156). However, Chay surprises Henry by giving the following response:

She sounds like all she wants is to die before anything else happens, because already she can't bear to keep on living. (p. 156)

After Henry replies, "Because of you," they both fall into a heavy silence that the narrator calls "dark"; the silence fills the inside of the truck, just as darkness surrounds the outside of the truck:

Outside there was this growing darkness. Inside there was only this silence, just as dark. (p. 156)

Since this silence is caused by their mutual grief, we see that the narrator's figurative language, likening silence to darkness, shows that the motif of darkness symbolizes their grief and trouble, grief and trouble that are as black as the night.