But now, here, in order to move on, you must understand why you felt what you did, and why you no longer need to feel it…" Ruby served as the voice of Albom, and even God, acting as Eddie's guide to the path towards enlightenment, forgiveness (and self-forgiveness), and ultimately, happiness.
Indeed, this pivotal moment in Eddie's life culminated with the characters of Marguerite and Tala, symbols of love and forgiveness, respectively. With Marguerite, he began crying again, releasing repressed feelings he never thought he still had with him until he died. It was through Marguerite that Albom explicated true and lasting love, which permeates through life and death.
Eddie's ultimate emotional release was through Tala, the young girl whom he never forgave himself for not being able to save her from a fire while he was stationed as a soldier in the Philippines. It was with Tala that Eddie made peace with himself, removing all the blames he put on himself to not feel the guilt he had been feeling all his life. Tala was his 'redeemer': it was through her that he forgave himself, and it was through her help that he learned...
As he washed away Tala's scars, Eddie also washed away all his sorrows in life, finally forgiving himself for all the guilty feelings he kept for a long time: "Eddie sobbed a final, vacant sob, as if his chest were empty. He had surrendered all barriers…"
Indeed, each person is a symbol that made Eddie realize the "inscrutable." From the Blue Man to the Captain, and eventually to Ruby, Marguerite, and Tala, truths about his life were uncovered, leading him to the path towards forgiveness. Albom's character's allowed Eddie to know truths about his life from the surface, and eventually, deeper into his emotional core. With the Blue Man, Eddie learned that the surface is not always what it seems, that an accident he taught he caused was actually not his fault. Through the Captain, Eddie learned to forgive others, and through Ruby, he again learned to gradually let go of the negative feelings that sustained him through his earthly life. Marguerite restored his love, not only for his wife, but for life, most importantly; and through Tala, he learned to forgive himself. These stages were cleverly crafted by Albom to prepare Eddie in his enlightenment and passage through the afterlife.
Albom, M. (2003). The Five People You Meet in Heaven. NY: Hyperion Books.
Doty, G. (2009). "Signs, Symbols, Meanings, and Interpretation." Missouri University of Science and Technology web site. Available at: http://web.mst.edu/~gdoty/classes/concepts-practices/symbolism.html.
Wellek, R. (2003). "Symbol and symbolism in literature." University of Virginia Library. Available at: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/cgi-local/DHI/dhiana.cgi?id=dv4-45.
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