Student Question

What are the themes, characterization, setting, imagery, and symbolism in Hotel World and Girl Meets Boy?

Quick answer:

Girl Meets Boy takes place in a small Scottish town. It addresses gender, sexuality, pop culture, and consumer culture. Hotel World centers on a hotel. It addresses many of the issues of Girl Meets Boy. Although, with Hotel World, the symbolism might be more ghostly.

Expert Answers

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I can help you sort out themes, characterization, setting, imagery, and symbols in these two novels by Ali Smith.

Girl Meets Boy

Girl Meets Boy is set in a rather tiny Scotland town. You could also say it’s set in consumer culture. Remember, Imogen works for a bottled-water business. You could also say consumer culture, globalization, and materialism are themes. Other big themes you should probably note include gender and sexuality. You should probably discuss Anthea and Robin’s relationship and the homophobic feelings that it incites in Imogen.

As for symbols, the most striking symbols seem connected to the theme of consumer culture or pop culture. You could discuss the ways in which Buffy the Vampire Slayer symbolizes Imogen’s conflicting feelings about her sister’s sexuality.

Hotel World

As the title hints at, Hotel World takes place in and around a hotel. You might have caught the name: Global Hotel. The name links to its themes, which include globalization, atomization, and displacement. Yet you could also bring up some more positive themes, like solidarity and empathy. Remember, Lise gives Else a home for one night by letting her stay at the hotel for free. There’s more unity when Penny and Clare team up to help locate a hotel worker's ghost. Sara’s ghost could be a symbol. Other symbols include the dumbwaiter and the nameless city where the Global Hotel is located.

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