The Changeover Critical Essays

Margaret Mahy


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

In The Changeover, the symbolism of moon mythology is combined with romantic conventions, quantum theory, the black holes of astronomy, and Jungian psychology to construct a concept of being in which fantasy and reality exist together. Mahy’s metaphor for life is a hologram: Since each piece of a hologram is exactly like the rest of it, inner or subconscious experience and outer reality cannot be separated.

This romance, like a folktale, uses psychological truths in opposition. Good is almost overcome by evil but triumphs in the end. Mahy sets the stage for her super-natural plot with the generous use of personifications. By endowing inanimate objects with human characteristics, the author creates a world where magic is possible.

The traditional symbols of romance are present, and feminine motifs and imagery are used lavishly. Although Laura uses the male symbols of the sword and the wand, she also has a womb symbol for herself, an opal cup. Pink, a feminine color, is evident in the pink crocodiles, pigs, and rosebuds of the novel. Laura’s father wears a pink shirt when he comes to the hospital. The number three, which is also considered feminine, abounds in the story. There are three people in the Chant and Carlisle families. Jacko is three years old. Three adults “mother” Laura: Kate, her natural mother, and Sorry’s mother and grandmother, who personify moon goddesses. Laura’s father left his family for another woman three years ago. Three older men cause Laura pain: her father; Chris Holly, who is a potential stepfather; and Carmody...

(The entire section is 648 words.)