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93 pages 3 hours read

Margaret Peterson Haddix

Uprising

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2007

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Symbols & Motifs

Fire

In Uprising, the symbol of fire is imbued with complex and even conflicting resonances. Haddix links the image of fire to the many hardships that threaten to destroy women. When Bella becomes dangerously ill, her “tragic eyes burn like embers” (157). In vulnerable moments, Yetta repeatedly reflects that women are “like tinder” (271). The fire is also compared to the strikers’ desire for political change, the spark that keeps their struggle alive and burning.

These resonances are harmonized by Rahel’s description of the violent pogrom she witnessed. Rahel explains that back in Russia, she watched a woman “who might have been you or me” as she burned alive, her whole life “gone in a flash” (241). This story functions as a kind of warning to Yetta: her fire for political change could consume her whole life.

The Triangle fire also provides an opportunity for Yetta, Bella, and Jane to actualize their political values. Faced with imminent destruction, Yetta is able to focus not on future change, but on helping others in the here and now. Jane demonstrates independence, putting out a fire in her skirt and refusing privilege-based help from others. Bella ultimately lives to tell the story of The Triangle women and the strike, a story which assumes historic importance because of the fire.

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