The Knife of Never Letting Go

by Patrick Ness
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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 522

Without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.

This quote is a reference to the “Noise” that all the men in the New World are forced to live with. Todd is told from birth that there was a war between the colonizers and the Spackle. During the war, a germ was released that caused all the men in town to hear one another’s thoughts in an endless noise. Todd is told that women in the town died at a rapid rate. However, Todd learns from his adoptive parent, Ben, that the germ is natural to the environment of the New World. The men of Prentisstown had gotten jealous that women were unaffected by the germ and killed all of them. Since then, Prentisstown has been shunned by the other colonies. Todd learns that on a boy's thirteenth birthday, the mayor of Prentisstown reveals this secret.

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Men lie, and they lie to theirselves worst of all.

This quote is in reference to the lie that the men of Prentisstown tell themselves and their children.

But a knife ain't just a thing, is it? It's a choice, it's something you do. A knife says yes or no, cut or not, die or don't. A knife takes a decision out of your hand and puts it in the world and it never goes back again.

Todd discovers a swampy area on the outskirts of town where, for the first time in his life, he experiences silence. He runs home to tell his parents, and his noise travels across the town. Todd learns that his parents have been plotting to send him out of town, and the plan is accelerated when the noise escapes. Todd is handed a knife and his deceased mother’s diary. The knife in this quote is the same knife that Todd is armed with when he is sent out of town. The knife is used in several fight scenes in the rest of the novel.

Knowledge is dangerous.

Todd’s parents have him flee the town because they believe that if he is innocent and doesn’t know the truth, he will have a better chance of surviving in another settlement. His parents want the best for him and believe that Prentisstown is filled with evil. The knowledge of what happened is the evil.

Life equals running and when we stop running maybe that's how we'll know life is finally finished.

After Todd is told to run from the town, he embarks on a long journey to safety. The story documents his travels with his newly found friend, Viola. The two go from destination to destination while under the attack of the men of Prentisstown.

And she says, “Then let’s just take the effing road and get ourselves to Haven.”

I smile, a little. “You said effing,” I say. “You actually said the word effing.”

Viola does not talk the first time she meets Todd. It is not until she saves them from an attack on a bridge that she speaks her name. She remains shy and reserved throughout the novel. This quote highlights some of her personality.

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