Why is the book called Jacob Have I Loved?

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The book is called Jacob Have I Loved as an allusion to a Bible verse. An allusion is a reference to a historical event, work of fiction, art piece, etc. from another work. Romans 9:13 says,

Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

This verse is an allusion to the biblical story from Genesis 25-27. These sections chronicle the struggle between Jacob and Esau, two brothers who fought over their inheritance. Culturally, the inheritance and blessing were intended for the older brother, Esau, but after a string of events, the younger brother, Jacob, ends up with the inheritance and blessing. This was predicted in Genesis 25:19-34 when the boys' mother, Rebekah, was pregnant with them.

The Lord said to [Rebekah],

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”

The novel alludes to this specific story because it follows Louise's growth, where she learns that she is not the child that is hated. The novel begins with her believing that she is the child that is unloved and ignored. Her sister Caroline gets a great deal of attention from those around her, which leads to Louise comparing herself to the social acceptance that Caroline enjoys. The story is a coming-of-age story where Louise eventually discovers that she is loved by her family.

The title refers to Louise's perception of her family's neglect.

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You are referring to the book by Katherine Paterson. The book broadly speaking is about the sibling rivalry between Sara and Caroline. Caroline is by far the more popular of the two. She is prettier, more talented, and so gains attention. The book is about how Sara frees herself from this complex and finds freedom and peace. 

The title of the book might sound odd, but it actually comes from one of the most famous sibling rivalries in the history of the world. It comes from the Old Testament. In the book of Genesis, we read of Isaac, one of the patriarchs. He has two sons (twins), Esau and Jacob. In this story, Isaac loved Jacob more than Esau; hence, the rivalry started. 

The apostle Paul in the New Testament stated: "Jacob I have loved, be Esau I have hated" in Romans 9:13. Here Paul is referring to a different rivalry, but similar dynamics are in place. 

In conclusion, the book by Katherine Paterson uses the rivalry in the Bible as the backdrop to her story. 

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