What does the library symbolize in The Midnight Library?

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In The Midnight Library, the library symbolizes the many possibilities of life. Just as an ordinary library houses a dazzling variety of books, the Midnight Library contains all the possible routes an individual’s life can take.

After attempting to take her own life, Nora Seed is transported to the...

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In The Midnight Library, the library symbolizes the many possibilities of life. Just as an ordinary library houses a dazzling variety of books, the Midnight Library contains all the possible routes an individual’s life can take.

After attempting to take her own life, Nora Seed is transported to the Midnight Library. This liminal space represents Nora’s halfway state as she hovers between life and death. Time is suspended at midnight as the protagonist decides which path to take.

The library houses an infinite number of packed bookshelves stretching to the horizon. Each book is a portal to a parallel world that would have been available to Nora if she had made different choices. The books symbolize Nora’s limitless potential but also the futility of regret.

Nora’s burden of regret is symbolized by the Book of Regrets. Gray and heavy, this is a book she has “written without ever having to type a word.” Nora has created the huge tome by dwelling on what might have been rather than living in the present. However, as she tries out the parallel lives stored in the library, Nora realizes that they do not lead to happiness. Only when the regrets in the gray book have been erased can Nora finally embrace the future.

The Midnight Library is experienced differently by different people. The setting and its guardian possess “emotional significance for each individual.” Nora perceives it as a library because the school library was her sanctuary during difficult periods of her childhood. It is overseen by Mrs. Elm: the school librarian who supported Nora in the aftermath of her father’s death. In Hugo Lefèvre’s case, the library is a video store managed by his dead uncle.

A construct of Nora’s brain, the Midnight Library reflects her state of mind. When she lacks the will to carry on living, the library’s computer system malfunctions, and the structure of the whole building begins to crumble. Once Nora decides to return to her “root” life, the library has served its purpose. The building collapses, the books catch fire, and it ceases to exist.

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