Meanings of names, places
Symbolism & Allegories &
Book Club Questions.
The French Boy
All chapters begin with a quote from French author Victor Hugo. These quotes reflect various meanings of a characters perspective, attitude, or a major event. Chapter One's quote reflects the entire theme of the story:
"To love another person is to see the face of God."
Before you read the first word of the story, you know this is a spiritual love story of an intense friendship of two 14-year-old boys. It's a critical time in boys lives when they crawl out from their parents wing and are vulnerable to the world. It's a wonderful, scary time before the influence of dating and social pressures infiltrate boys persona.
The opening is a small paragraph reflecting the entire story and provides the protagonist perspective of vision.
The opening paragraph of the novel is a reflection on KK's life events and his relationship and how he wishes to perceive them He describes closing his eyes during these experiences, both positive and negative, indicating a desire to focus on the internal rather than the external. The repeated act of closing his eyes also suggests a desire for control and a willingness to take responsibility for his own choices and his individual identity. The use of the Devil and God as opposing forces suggests his struggles with morality and free will. The phrase "for the sake of vision" at the end of the paragraph also suggests that the protagonist values the ability to see beyond the physical world and into a deeper, more personal truth. Overall, this opening paragraph sets a contemplative and introspective tone for the novel.
KK's thin eyes is a unique twist on vision versus blindness archetype. For KK it's not about one or the other, it's about selective vision of truth. His mentor Bear explains, “You know why your eyes are thin KK? Because they filter life’s minutia. Only truth makes it through your eyes!” KK sees only what's important to him. He sees truth.
Truth is further emphasized by the town's name, Vera City, which translates to veracity, meaning truthfulness. KK's journey into truth-seeking is described in trivial descriptions of pumpkins as a fruit, as well as more significant inner-reflections such as the ultimate question philosophers, poets, and artists have asked themselves throughout time: "Who am I." This is further examined throughout his story.
Chapter One introduces us to Kai, as well as Bear, Celeste, and Beau Laughed. Here is a quick meaning of their names: visit What's in a Name for a complete list of character's name meanings.
Kai Kaine - Kai was chosen for it's Asian reference, alluding to his thin eyes. Kaine is a reference to the first child in Biblical history.
Celeste Kaine - Again the Biblical history of Kaine and Celeste is based on the French word meaning Heavenly.
Bjorn "Bear" Adalward - Bear is Norwegian and his name reflects it. Bjorn means Bear and Adalward means protector. He most certainly is a mentor and protector of young Kai.
Beau Laughed. I'm watching an old episode of The Waltons and Aaron has a boy come to see her - a beau! Though Beau's and KK's intense relationship is platonic - the name signifies the intensity of their platonic bromance. Okay, Laughed - love it or hate it - the story would not exist without this name. It is the catalyst of events that lead to Beau's deep suffering, but also his eternal relationship with Kai.
What are your thought - love or hate?
BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS:
1, Discuss the dichotomy of Celeste's parenting of Kai by her not caring if he ever goes to school, yet constantly demands his grammar is always correct and her demanding he's a critical thinker - Mom never, never, never asked me a rhetorical question. She demands thought. She demands I think and conclude. She never relents.
2. Discuss a possible dichotomy of Beau being so kind as to kiss each person's cheek who tells him a joke, something he obviously does not want, and his self isolation from kids trying to befriend him (boys in the cafeteria). Do these seem opposing?
3. What's the dichotomy significance of the school name - Vera City Edification and Arts Prep school?