35 pages 1 hour read

Margaret Peterson Haddix

Running Out Of Time

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1995

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Symbols & Motifs

Cameras and Mirrors

Even before Ma revealed that Clifton village was littered with hidden cameras and two-way mirrors, Jessie knew there was something “haunted” about the boxes in the trees. Her instinct was proven correct when Pa and another neighbor spanked her for asking about the mysterious boxes. She also reflects on the mirror in her cabin: “Across from the door, the ornate mirror on the back wall reflected little light. Even if it was one of the few heirlooms brought from Pennsylvania, Jessie had never liked the mirror. Maybe she’d been yelled at to stay away from it too many times when she was younger” (13). After Ma’s revelation, Jessie wonders how non-sentient things like cameras and mirrors can capture images of the villagers and present them to strangers. Jessie is wary of being watched, especially after witnessing footage of the villagers.

Jessie’s knowledge of surveillance affects her throughout her journey. She is embarrassed of rebellious things she has done in private and finds every mirror suspect. She knows that surveillance may change the behavior of the observed and wonders yet again if she could trust the adults in her life: if they knew they had an audience, are they really who they are, or are they just performing what the audience wants? If she knew she was being observed, would she still be the same person?