The Five People You Meet in Heaven Study Guide

Symbolism / Motifs / Imagery / Symbols Cont.

Death as a new beginning & Heaven - It is important to note that the entire novel is Mitch Albom’s idea of heaven. This is in conjunction with why he names the very first chapter of the book The End. Many people perceive life on earth as the main form of life and that death is the end. Albom’s idea of death is that it is the beginning of a new journey to find out the meaning of ourselves and how we affected those around us on earth. He calls this first chapter, The End, to emphasize that although it is the end of Eddie’s life, it is the beginning of the journey on which he will embark, in heaven, to find meaning and significance in himself and his life; ironically, The End, is also the beginning of the novel.

Albom also sees heaven as the time where people, who felt unimportant on earth, finally realize how much they were loved during their life. Albom’s conception of heaven was inspired by his uncle, for whom the book is dedicated. His uncle, just like Eddie, felt very unimportant on earth, and Albom only hopes that in heaven, his uncle realized how significant and loved he was here on earth.


Settings - The story takes place in different settings, mainly in heaven. For each setting, Albom paints a vivid picture for the reader, to allow us a clear image in the setting his is trying to portray.

The first setting in heaven is Ruby Pier. Eddie notices that it is not the Ruby Pier with which is most familiar, but it appears to look like the pier did when he was a young child. Albom makes an effort to explain the primitive and simple amusement rides covered in crisp, white paint. This setting is symbolic of Eddie’s childhood when he was naïve and carefree. The white paint of the rides could represent Eddie’s purity as a child; the simple amusement rides can also be symbolic of childrens’ naivety and love for simple things in life. During the flashbacks to Eddie’s life on earth, Albom makes an effort to note the amusement rides getting more modern and complex as Eddie’s life becomes more complicated and he no longer found joy in the simple things in his life.

The second setting in heaven is a war ground in the Philippians, which is where Eddie fought during WWII. The sky, which was blue, changes to a dark, charcoal grey. The scene is perceived very dark and gloomy with fallen trees, rubble and the sound of bombs exploding in the distance. Albom creates a very dark image for this scene because when Eddie was at war he was older and his life was becoming more and more complex. The darkness of this setting also signifies the how Eddie became injured during the war, which is a major reason for the depression and unhappiness he experienced for the rest of his life.

The third setting is a large mountain range, surrounding a large, dark lake. Albom paints a vivid picture for us detailing the white, snow-capped peaks of the mountains, the rocks and the purples slopes. The lake, in the center of the mountains, is black and reflects the bright white moon. In the single diner at the bottom of the mountains, Eddie sees that all of the customers appear to be from a different decade and most appear to be injured. The diner is a part of this scene because Ruby wanted to feel as if she had returned to her earlier years, when she worked as a waitress and had a simple and secure life. Since the pier had also caused Ruby much pain and suffering, she wanted all others that had suffered at the pier to be safe and secure as well. This scene shows is that others besides Eddie, have suffered as a result of Ruby Pier: Ruby, Eddie’s father and all of the other patrons in the diner.

Marguerite chose to have her setting as different types of wedding receptions. Eddie never liked weddings very much, on earth, because he felt that they were “full of embarrassing moments” (148). He mainly avoided weddings because of his injury. He was very self-conscious about his injury and never was able to dance. Marguerite probably wanted to take Eddie through the different receptions so he would feel comfortable at weddings, as he never did on earth. Marguerite also probably missed celebrating weddings with Eddie since he always avoided them when he was alive. This setting also emphasizes Marguerite’s lesson of the power of love. All of the weddings she saw were similar in that the bride and groom truly believed in their love. Marguerite saw that from all different weddings, in different countries and cultures, that true love is universal.

The final setting in heaven is a river with thousands of happily playing children. Albom emphasizes how there are only blissful and safe children in this setting. Here, Eddie finds the meaning of his life, which was to keep children safe at the pier. The children in this setting can be representative of all of the children Eddie kept safe through all of his work at the pier.

Cite this page:

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