Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Symbols for Strength

Last Sunday Jaycee Dugard gave her first interview on TV with Diane Sawyer. In case you don't know who Jaycee Dugard is, she was kidnapped at eleven years old by a convicted sex offender and his wife, Phillip and Nancy Garrido. She was held captive in their backyard, raped, and gave birth to two girls without any proper medical care. After eighteen years, she was finally found and reunited with her mother.

In the interview Jaycee talks about the last thing she touched before being taken was a pinecone, the last thing that reminded her of her life before and who she was. Now she keeps a charm of a pinecone around her neck as a symbol of hope.

Jaycee said that in the shed she spent the first of several nights of captivity in, she could see moonlight streaming in through the window. Before, at her home, she would spend nights on the porch with her mom, and they would debate on which moon was better, the full moon or the crescent moon. There in the shed, kidnapped and bound, she saw the moonlight and held onto it as strength. When she later could leave the shed, at night she would stare at the moon and remember her mom, and hope she would see her again.

Besides just being human and having this story touch me, it also hit my inner writer. I think that it's common for humans, when going through a hard time, to find something that reminds them of better days, or someone they love, or the possibility of escape from the pain they're going through. Since it's our job as writers to put our characters through struggle and hard times, I really started to like the idea of giving a character something tangible to give them hope, as Jaycee had. Not only does it keep the situation more hopeful for the character, but the reader will also have some light to go by as well, instead of wallowing in suffering.

Have you used any symbols to give your characters strength? Do you have any in your own life?


  1. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for her--she must be incredibly strong to come out of this and sound like she kept her head on her shoulders! That's a great point you made about using familiar objects as symbols of hope--I guess when you're in a really desperate situation, you look for something to ground you wherever you can. That would be an excellent device in a book.


  2. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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