Eleanor and Park Symbols and Motifs

Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

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Eleanor and Park Symbols and Motifs

“A Dream Deferred” 

Eleanor’s recitation of Langston Hughes’s masterful poem “A Dream Deferred” in Mr. Stressman’s English class foreshadows the events that occur at the close of the novel. “A Dream Deferred” deals with the theme of how dreams never come to fruition, and in a sense this perfectly describes the ultimate reality of Park and Eleanor’s relationship: they had a wonderful love blossoming but it is ultimately deferred due to circumstances beyond their control. By all accounts, Park and Eleanor’s love is sweet, innocent, and tender, but their “dream” would be ultimately “deferred” as a result of Richie’s disgusting treatment of Eleanor. Park is extremely impressed by Eleanor’s initial recitation of the poem, so the symbol of their love’s final downfall is also an event that serves to kindle a spark in their blossoming relationship.

Park and Eleanor’s Mix-tapes

Quite simply, Park and Eleanor’s mix-tapes represent the love that each one feels for the other. One day on the bus, Park notices that Eleanor has a song title etched onto her notebook, but when he asks her about it she claims she’s never heard it before. Park thinks this is silly, so he goes home that evening and makes Eleanor a mix-tape of that particular song, as well as several of his other favorites. As a result, they start making each other mix-tapes on a weekly if not daily basis. The tapes come to be another form of communication between the couple, but they also come to represent the young couple’s desire to share their worlds with each other. At the end of the book, Park sends Eleanor mix-tapes on regular basis, which suggests that he still loves her, but she never listens to them. Her refusal to listen to Park’s tapes in the closing chapters of the narrative is part of Eleanor’s attempt to move on from Park’s love altogether.

The Stick Shift 

Park’s family owns a stick-shift truck, which is notoriously hard to handle for inexperienced drivers. Park’s father repeatedly takes Park out for drives in an effort to get Park to learn how to drive the stick-shift, but Park is…

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