49 pages 1 hour read

Richard Powers


Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2021

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Symbols & Motifs

Robin’s Paintings

Robin is a boy who is neurodivergent and has problems communicating his feelings with the outside world. At the beginning of the novel, his attempts to communicate result in screaming tantrums, which can turn violent. When Robin develops a passion for painting, however, he learns a new way of expressing himself. His paintings reveal his desire to engage with the world around him using a language that few other people use. The paintings are messages from Robin to an uncaring, hostile society that has bullied and ignored him for most of his life. His paintings symbolize his desire to change this world, starting with a dialogue between the artist and the world around him.

Robin develops his painting skills as he spends more time in Currier’s experimental study. As he becomes more sociable and gets a better grip on his emotions, the quality of his paintings improves. The techniques become more refined, and the early setbacks of Robin’s artistic career disappear. By the time he creates a banner to display in Washington, his talents impress his father and anyone who comes to admire his work. Robin’s developing skills as a painter follow his improving social skills. Learning to control his emotions is as much of an artistic technique as learning to draw and paint.