The Five People You Meet in Heaven Study Guide

Chapter 6: The Second Lesson

The Captain tells Eddie his second lesson. Eddie begins to understand the Captain's meaning of "sacrifice" (93) and forgives the Captain for shooting him. After Eddie shakes the Captain's hand, the war grounds turn into lush green scenery; the Captain also appears cleaned up and in a neat, pressed uniform. Eddie asks the Captain if he saved the little girl at the pier but the Captain does not tell him.

The chapter then takes us back to Ruby Pier, the morning after the accident. Dominguez and Willie sit in the shop wondering when Ruby Pier will open again. They sit and sit. By habit, they are waiting for Eddie to arrive.


Notes

Eddie learns his second lesson here, which is sacrifice. The Captain teaches Eddie that sacrifice is part of life, that it is supposed to happen and it is not something we should regret. The Captain explains how his sacrifice probably saved the other three soldiers in the car; if he had never went to inspect the grounds, all four of them may have driven over the landmine and been killed. The Captain explains that by shooting Eddie he kept his promise by not leaving him behind and giving Eddie his life. Eddie suddenly feels ashamed for having been bitter his whole life over his injured leg, because it turned out that the Captain had died for him. The Captain knows this and has been waiting for Eddie's forgiveness. Once Eddie shakes his hand the scenery changed into healthy branches, leaves and figs. Eddie was now able to see the war ground without the war.

The Captain tells Eddie his second lesson. Eddie begins to understand the Captain's meaning of "sacrifice" (93) and forgives the Captain for shooting him. After Eddie shakes the Captain's hand, the war grounds turn into lush green scenery; the Captain also appears cleaned up and in a neat, pressed uniform. Eddie asks the Captain if he saved the little girl at the pier but the Captain does not tell him.

The chapter then takes us back to Ruby Pier, the morning after the accident. Dominguez and Willie sit in the shop wondering when Ruby Pier will open again. They sit and sit. By habit, they are waiting for Eddie to arrive.

Chapter 7: The Third Person Eddie Meets in Heaven

Eddie now finds himself in a beautiful mountain range. Eddie notices that his body has changed once again. He is older, fatter and his knee was in terrible pain. Eddie thought the pain would disappear forever once his visit with the Captain was over. He finds a diner and can see all of the patrons inside, who appeared to all be from different decades. Eddie sees his father through one of the diner windows; he bangs on the window and yells for him, but he never looks up.

The story flashes back to Eddie’s 24th birthday in the V.A hospital. Eddie’s father, Joe, Marguerite, Mickey Shea and his mother had all come to visit him. They sing happy birthday and Eddie sees his father standing across the room, looking down at the windowsill. Eddie forces back his tears.

As a child Eddie’s father did not spend much time with him. On Saturdays he would take Eddie to the pier and would leave him in the care of an acrobat or an animal trainer. Later in the day Eddie’s father would come back drunk. Often, Eddie’s father would come home drunk late at night and beat Eddie and Joe. Eddie’s father has created damage to him in three ways: neglect, violence and silence.

After Eddie was released from the hospital, he was very depressed by his injury; he did not work and would spend his days indoors, staring out the window. Eddie’s father came home very drunk one night and yelled at him to get a job. He raised his hand to punch Eddie, but Eddie defended himself from his father’s swing. His father never spoke to him again.

Back in the mountains, Eddie meets a woman outside the diner, from where he sees his father. The woman leads him away and tells her story of how she met her husband, their courtship and how he built an amusement park for her. The old woman is named Ruby, “Ruby Pier’s” namesake.

After the war, Eddie suffers from severe depression and terrible nightmares. This specific night is Eddie’s thirty-fourth birthday. He returns home from driving his taxi and Marguerite surprises him with a cake and some taffy.

The baker, who lives in one of the ground apartments, comes to Eddie’s and tells him that he thinks something has happened to Eddie’s father.

Ruby tells Eddie how the pier caught fire, how her husband became injured, and how they moved far away from Ruby Pier. She tells Eddie that she is here to tell him why his father died. Eddie then recalls the death of his father and the following events; after his death Eddie and Marguerite move back to the apartment building where Eddie grew up so he could help his mother and continue his father’s job at Ruby Pier. Eddie cursed his father’s death, for it forced him to work and lead the life he was forever trying to escape.

It is then Eddie’s 37th birthday and he is having breakfast with his friend, Noel. The two talk about an amusement park accident in Brighton.

Notes

We learn a lot about Eddie's relationship with his father in this chapter. During the flashback of Eddie's birthday in the hospital, Eddie notices that his father is the only one standing back and over by the windowsill remaining silent. Seeing this, Eddie tries gets very upset and tries not to cry. This is foreshadowing, what we will learn about Eddie's father and how he has hurt him.

Eddie's father was a belligerent drunk; he would go out and come home drunk every night and hit Eddie and Joe. Eddie notes that his father never seemed proud of him unless it involved Eddie getting in a fight. Eddie remembers his father watching his baseball games without any sign of approval, even when Eddie would hit the ball deep into the outfield. If Eddie came home from an alley fight, his father showed a sense of approval. Eddie's father was not impressed by education or sports; however he would be impressed with Eddie if he had fixed a maintenance problem and returned with grease all over his hands. He wanted to be able to see "a hard day's work" (107) with greasy hands and dirty fingernails.

After the war, when Eddie was released from the hospital, he was very depressed about his injury. He did not have motivation to find a job or even leave the house. One evening his father came in very drunk and started yelling at Eddie to stop being lazy and to get a job. His father raised a hand to hit him, but Eddie defended himself and blocked his father’s fist. Eddie's father never spoke to him again. Neglect, silence and violence were the three ways in which Eddie's father damaged and hurt him.

During the excerpt from Eddie's 33rd birthday, we see that he is still haunted by that night in the fire, when he was at war. He has terrible nightmares and is still depressed about his injury.

Ruby tells Eddie of a terrible fire that broke out on the pier one evening. Her husband, Emile, heard of the fire and ran down to the pier; he tried to put out some of the fire and a column collapsed on him, which changed their lives forever. They lost the pier, his fortune and his health. They ended up moving away from the pier so Ruby could tend to her wounded husband. Ruby tells Eddie that she had one wish and it was that Emile had never built the pier. Eddie now sees that he is not the only one who regretted the pier ever being built.

After the death of Eddie's father, he secretly cursed him, for how he had treated Eddie and how Eddie was forced to take over his job at the pier. After Eddie had taken over his father's job, he and Marguerite moved back into his mother's apartment building to take care of her; for after his father's death, his mother was mentally unstable. Eddie hated his father because he was the reason Eddie never escaped Ruby Pier, which he had been trying to do his entire life.

The next section of the chapter recalls Eddie's 37th birthday. He is sitting in a diner with his friend Noel and they discuss an amusement park accident in another town. We can tell that this is one of Eddie's greatest fears-an amusement accident at Ruby Pier. This illustrates the irony of Eddie’s life and death. He had spend his whole life trying to escape Ruby Pier, however, he ended up working there for the rest of his life; the pier was even responsible for Eddie's death.

Cite this page:

Radisch, Sharon. "TheBestNotes on The Five People You Meet in Heaven". TheBestNotes.com. . 09 May 2017
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