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Free Study Guide Summary for The Five People You Meet In Heaven

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BOOK SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS

CHAPTER 2 - The Journey

Summary

This brief chapter describes Eddie's journey to heaven. Eddie is floating and he does not feel any pain. He remembers lunging toward the little girl but he is not sure if he saved her or not.

The end of this chapter brings us back to Eddie's fifth birthday at Ruby Pier. Mickey Shea, a friend of Eddie's father, picked him up and turned him upside down to do a "birthday bump" (23). With Eddie upside down, he lifted him up and down five times. When he returned Eddie upright, Eddie punched Mickey Shea in the arm.

Notes

In this chapter Eddie is still not sure if he had saved the little girl from the falling cart. Eddie also notices that he cannot feel any pain; he asks himself more than once, "Where is my worry...Where is my pain?" (21, 22). Eddie cannot feel agony and specifically, "every hurt he'd ever suffered, every ache he'd ever endured..." (21). This quote is alluding that Eddie probably felt a lot of hurt in his childhood and throughout the rest of his life.


CHAPTER 3 - The Arrival / The First Person Eddie Meets in Heaven

Summary

Eddie awakes in some kind of amusement park. He is able to pull himself up and walk without his cane; he does not feel any pain. He then notices that he is at Ruby Pier. The colors and the attractions seem different and he realizes that he is at the Ruby Pier from his childhood, over 75 years ago. Eddie runs and jumps around, taking advantage of his newfound limberness and the fact that he no longer needed his cane. He passes by the sideshow and notices a man, who he vaguely remembers, with blue skin.

The Blue Man tells Eddie that he knows him from when he was a child. Eddie is trying to find out why is at Ruby Pier but he cannot speak. Eddie finds it quite ridiculous that heaven might be Ruby Pier, since he had spent most of his life wishing he was away from Ruby Pier. The Blue Man informs Eddie that he will meet five people in heaven who were each in his life for a reason; this will help him understand his life on earth. Eddie is able to mutter out the question of what killed the Blue Man; the Blue Man replies that Eddie killed him.

The next birthday flashback is Eddie's seventh birthday. He and his brother, Joe, are playing catch with Eddie's new baseball. Eddie mistakenly throws the ball off of the boardwalk. They search around the sideshow tents and freaks, from the freak show, catch them. Eddie and Joe become very scared, they grab the ball and run away.

The chapter returns to Eddie's conversation with the Blue Man. He tells Eddie his story about how he came to Ruby Pier and why his skin is blue. The Blue Man tells Eddie the story about how he died from Eddie's point of view and also the Blue Man's point of view.

Eddie attends a funeral on his eighth birthday; he is unaware of where he is or the purpose of the ceremony.




Notes

We now know that Eddie has reached his afterlife. It is unclear why he is at Ruby Pier, especially the Ruby Pier 75 years prior to his death.

The Blue Man is the first person Eddie meets in heaven. He tells his story about how he became a member of the freak show:

He was a poor immigrant and a very nervous child. He had a falling out with his father and often wet his bed. The Blue Man went to a chemist to get some help for his nerves and he gave the Blue Man a bottle of silver nitrate. Silver nitrate was later considered a poison, but the Blue Man drank it every night; it turned his skin blue. One night in a saloon, the Blue Man was discovered by a group of carnival men. One winter he came to Ruby Pier and decided to live there. The Blue Man loved how he could play cards at night with the other sideshow workers, and could even walk along the beach without scaring people.

This is where we find out why Eddie is at Ruby Pier, after his death; the Blue Man states, "Do you understand? Why we're here? This is not your heaven. It's mine" (42). Ruby Pier is not Eddie's heaven, as he had originally thought; it is the Blue Man's heaven.

The Blue Man then explains how Eddie killed him:

The Blue Man had borrowed his friend's Ford Model A to practice his driving. Eddie's baseball bounces into the street and he runs into the street after it. The Blue Man slams on his breaks and yanks at the wheel. The Blue Man managed to regain control of the car; however, he was still so nervous that he had almost hit Eddie. He feels dizzy and his head falls for a moment, causing his car to almost collide with another. He skids down the street and pulls into an alley and ends up colliding with a truck. No one found him in the alley until he had already died.

The chapter then brings us to Eddie's eighth birthday. His mother is dressing him for a funeral and Eddie does not understand where they are going and for what. Since reading the chapter we can infer that it was the Blue Man's funeral and we see the bit of irony that Eddie was the one who killed him and he did not even know whose funeral he was attending.

 

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