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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 274

How could that colour be caught in words? A sort of rosy peach colour, but that sounded corny and was also inaccurate.

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I used to think words could do anything. Magic. Sorcery. Even miracle. But no, only occasionally.

One of the main themes of the novel is Morag's desire and attempt to find life's hidden meanings through writing. We see her growth as a writer as she gains humility about the power of her words to perform "miracle." Morag, in this passage, struggles to find the appropriate words to describe the world around her without becoming banal or cliched. Writing doesn't always capture meaning precisely, and it is very seldom easy.

Why doesn't Prin go and get her own goddamn blistering bloody shitty jelly doughnuts?

Readers can see from the above quote why this book has sometimes been banned from schools as irreverent and obscene. Morag can speak bluntly and emotionally, often without finesse. But we also see the seeds of a woman who questions convention and will trust herself enough to go her own way in life.

The waters flowed from north to south, and the current was visible, but now a south wind was blowing, ruffling the water in the opposite direction so that the river, as so often here, seemed to be flowing both ways.

The river is a motif that runs through the novel. The fact that it flows north but is subjected to a wind that also sends it southward represents the idea that we have choices in life. Life can flow toward the past or the future. It often flows in contradictory directions rather than in straightforward ways.

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