What does "A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was" mean?

Expert Answers
Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote is a metaphor that frames a reputation as a physical object that is "cracked." Imagine that you broke a precious vase as a child.  Your parents managed to save all the pieces and glued it back together. The vase is "whole" again, but when people see it, they tend to notice the cracks. Now imagine that you have done something wrong, for example, shoplifting.  You only do this one time, and then you promise you will never do it again. And you don't ever do it again. The problem is that when you go back to the store where you shoplifted, the people there will always be watching you, waiting for you to shoplift again. That is the "crack" in your reputation.  Another example is a person who uses illegal drugs. Even after that person stops using drugs, everyone around him or her is always on the alert to the possibility that he or she will become an active drug user again. What conclusion do you think you should draw from this idea?