Why do you think the title of the novel is The Gravity of Birds? What do birds symbolize in the book?
Join Date: 10/15/10
Join Date: 09/11/11
I think the title has to do with Thomas's feelings about Alice. Gravity can also mean 'important' and Alice was not only important to Thomas but she was an ornithologist. There is also the possibility that since birds can fly and disappear from sight very fast, the title has to do with Alice disappearing from Thomas's life with his child.
Join Date: 12/17/12
Gravity pulls you down and RA pulled Alice down from achieving her goals. I think the birds represented all of the things Alice wanted that she couldn't have or achieve. Gravity is also serious, and Alice faced serious challenges.
Join Date: 06/23/13
Join Date: 04/12/12
I think the title symbolizes Thomas's inability to be in a relationship. The bird figurine was the bond between Thomas and Alice and the gravity was the in-ablility to connect due to Thomas' own personality issues and Alice's RA. The fact that Thomas no longer painted shows how he could no longer fly. The RA kept Alice from flying. An yet in the end Thomas did reach out to Alice and Alice found love.
Join Date: 10/25/12
I think the title is perfect. Birds symbolize freedom from gravity, flight. Birds played such an important role in this novel. Alice studied birding, wanted to be an orinthologist. Thomas gave Alice the "blue grosbeak, in his breeding plumage". To quote from the novel "What is it about birds...maybe not just their ability to fly, but to fly away from,... to leave trouble behind, be free from boundaries, from expectations." The birds are so symbolic for Alice and Thomas. Alice is grounded by her RA. Thomas paints to be free from boundaries. They both have their personal baggage that does not allow them to be free. The symbolic birdcage in Thomas's paintings. Does it stand for being imprisoned or does it remind us to be free. Is it symbolic of what is missing in his life; Alice? I loved all the bird references.
Join Date: 05/21/11
I find the above responses very interesting. I am not yet sure what the title means! The fact that Thomas kept the bird caged and Alice stole (or freed) the bird from him is perhaps significant. It was punishment as it meant a great deal to him. In the same way, Natalie stole the baby from Alice! And it was punishment that arose out of her jealousy. She kept Alice from "flying"-- that hatred served as gravity for Alice, keeping her down.
Pam I like your comments. I think your observations regarding the bird cage are both right. Maybe our own issues/beliefs/experiences effect the way we see its symbolism. We know that Thomas never did find his freedom and Alice gained it through the new family she found! Both in the man and boy -- but also in the "bird" that was taken from her!
Join Date: 07/17/13
When you speak of gravity you could be talking about a force that attracts bodies of mass to each other or you could be referring to the importance, significance or weight of something. I think gravity is rendered in this novel in both ways.
The twists of events and the secrets of the characters in this story shaped them into who they end up being throughout their lives. They all seemed to orbit around each other in their own stories until the truth is finally revealed and connections between them are finally seen. The author was successful in showing that understanding our connections to others shows us ourselves. The connections shaped these lives so entirely, were so significant, that until they were acknowledged peace and happiness were elusive.
The symbolism of birds is first hinted at in the opening paragraphs when Alice thought that she and Thomas were observers of different sorts because he was an artist and she observed birds.
The symbol representing pain and revenge (gravity) was the porcelain blue grosbeak that Alice stole from Thomas’s guest room. He had stolen the bird from his mother in an act of pain and revenge. Alice stole it from him in the same manner. The significance of this was not lost on Thomas obviously because the blue grosbeak became his moniker. When Alice was finally faced with this symbolism in his paintings, the connections come together. The bird, the paintings, and the people were linked and the gravity of their connections is finally revealed when the missing paintings are found.
Join Date: 06/16/11
After finishing the book the meaning and significance of the title kept eluding me so was pleased to see it as a question here and was very intriqued and impressed by the thoughts expressed in all the replies. Those ideas finally got my thinking focused a bit and especially Paml's quote from the book. All birds have the ability to fly away and in this book a lot of the characters were very busy flying away from things they did not want to deal with or wanted to hide. But, just as it is for birds, gravity wins because we all must land somewhere and no matter how far we fly we really never leave our past behind. If you think about almost all of the characters in the book they are all trying to get away from something, or someone and start again but you can never really fly away cuz gravity wins.
Join Date: 06/10/11
Join Date: 04/21/11
For some reason I put only one meaning to the word gravity while reading, that of physics. After reading others' comments, I realized there is the other definition of gravity: importance or seriousness. I believe the gravity of birds is the importance of the birds to Thomas' mother, Thomas and Alice. And of course, the reasons others had in referring to the flight of birds is an interesting observation.
Join Date: 05/01/13
The title is very subtle. Birds signify freedom to Alice and to Thomas, I believe, birds could mean escape. Alice's flight from Thomas's life was very significant, the gravity of which was felt in ripples by Alice, Thomas and everyone else involved in their lives...
Join Date: 07/16/13
I love paml and joyces answers. Birds signify freedom and flight. But, as joyces said, they eventually have to land. The symoblism of being caged and then set free is a theme I think we see many times throughout the book. Alice freeing the bird in the cage. Alice leaving Thomas. In a sense Natalie's death was also a new freedom for Alice. She was able then to go and find her daughter.
Join Date: 04/21/11
Join Date: 10/14/11
It is a very beautiful title ~ I truly don't know why it's the title of this book although all of the above comments do apply & many are very well thought out & well written. I am going to say: yes, that is true; yes, I see what you mean; & yes, I can believe that ~ to all the previous comments. The title and book cover design are most definitely eye catching & part of the reason I wanted to read this book.
Join Date: 09/04/13
It took me quite a while to come to what I think the title of this book means. I liked what paml said about the imagery of birds throughout this book. And then I thought that maybe the imagery carries to each of the characters in this book. Perhaps each one of them is a bird, wanting to rise and fly free, but held to the earth by each of their limitations: Alice by her RA, Thomas by his inability to connect with those he loved, Stephen by his outrageously inappropriate behavior, Finch by his grief for his wife, Natalie by her bitterness and jealousy. Each character is flawed in his or her own way and so is subjected to the gravity of day to day living that keeps them from fulfilling their own potential.
Join Date: 04/22/11
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