The Five People You Meet in Heaven
By Mitch Albom
About the author
Eddie is the protagonist, and the main character that the story is mostly focused on. Eddie is an 83 year old war veteran that works at an amusement park at Ruby Pier. He is described as a “squat, white-haired old man, with a short neck, a barrel chest, thick forearms, and a faded army tattoo on his right shoulder.” Eddie is a war veteran in this chapter when his wounded knee is mentioned. He is a hard worker that did not plan to live like this before going to war.
He dreamed becoming an engineer but left with few chances after coming back from the war, he accepted his life. He is described as a “workingman” with a cigarette behind his left ear, a ring of keys hooked to his belt, rubber-soled shoes, an old linen cap, and pale brown uniform. There are two major conflicts in this story; the first being Eddie vs. himself.When Eddie was young he never wanted to work at Ruby Pier like his father did. After Eddie returned from the war, he was very depressed and angry at what he had done with his life. He never had another job other than Ruby Pier and he eventually moved into the same apartment building, where he grew up, to take care of his mother. This conflict though, is solved when he meets Tala in heaven. She helps him realize that his life had a purpose, which was keeping the children safe at the pier.
The second major conflict was between Eddie and his father. Eddie's father had never shown him love, approval or care. He would get drunk and yell at and beat Eddie. After Eddie returned injured from the war, his father yelled at him and tried to hit him but Eddie blocked his father's try of hitting him and his father never spoke to him again. Eddie feels that his father hurt him in three ways: silence, violence and neglect.This conflict is solved when Eddie meets Ruby in heaven; she teaches Eddie to let go of his anger and forgive his father.
The Blue Man shows Eddie his trip in heaven and what he will be facing there. He tells him that he is in Heaven and tells him that he will meet a total of 5 people in there. Blue Man was part of the “freaks from the freak show.” The Blue Man is Joseph Corvelzshick, the son of a tailor in a small Polish village who came to America. The Blue Man was always a nervous boy and as a result,wet his pants often, which embarressed his father. Because of these nerves Joseph(Blue Man) started taking silver nitrate, a poison that turns his skin an ashy blue. The Blue Man soon started to work with the circus until one night, he is killed by young Eddie.
Eddie's father is the antagonist, always drunk and aggressive, not very supportive or caring to his sons. He worked at Ruby Pier also, and sometimes returned home drunk and was violent to Eddie and Joe. Eddie says that his father hurt him in three major ways throughout his life, by "silence, violence, and neglect."Eddie's father is hospitalized after an event with a friend that was runk and shares a room with Ruby's husband. Eddie's dad then dies by the window in the cold.
Ruby is the third person Eddie meets in heaven and also Ruby Pier's namesake. She teaches Eddie to let go of his anger and to forgive his father for the problems he caused in his life.
Eddie’s wife,is introduced in the very beginning of the book.She is the love of Eddies life, but dies when she was 47. Marguerite is diagnosed with a brain tumor and leaves Eddie. Eddie meets Marguerite in heaven and learns that she did not just leave Eddie and that Eddie’s love for her was never gone becauese of her death. She teaches Eddie that love is never lost.
The second person Eddie meets in heaven; his ex-war captain. He explained that, although he shot Eddie, he kept his promise by not leaving him behind and even gave up his life so Eddie and two other soldiers were able to live. He also teaches Eddie that when one loses something, they often gain something else.
Theme(s) of te book
There are no random acts in life
Eddie learns from the Blue Man that there are no random acts in life and that all lives connect in some way. The Blue Man's death is an example of this theme: If Eddie's ball had never gone into the street, he would not have chased after it, running in front of the Blue Man's car. Then, the Blue Man would have never become so worried about almost hitting Eddie and gotten into an accident and killed.
Forgiveness and Letting go of Anger
Eddie hated his father for ruining his life. Even after his father's death, Eddie could never seem to let go of the anger he had for his father. Eddie was so angry with his father after his death, that it seemed to still ruin Eddie's happiness. While in heaven, Ruby teaches Eddie to let go of his anger and to forgive his father.
The Power of Love
Although Eddie was angry and depressed through most of his life, his love for Marguerite was the one thing that made him happy. After she died, Eddie felt empty without her. When he meets Marguerite in heaven she explains to him that even after her death, she had always loved Eddie. Eddie learns that although life ends love goes on.
Lives are given up to save others During WWII Eddie's Captain sacrificed his life for three other soldiers. As they were escaping, they came across a suspicious area. The Captain got out of the vehicle to check the land and ended up getting killed by stepping on a land mine. If the captain had not gotten out of the vehicle, all soulders would be dead.
Eddie meets the Blue Man in heaven, at Ruby Pier. But, it is not the Ruby Pier where Eddie was killed at the start of the novel, it was the Ruby Pier Eddie remembers from his childhood. As he runs around the pier he also sees the weight guessers, fortune tellers, and dancing gypsies. This setting is symbolic of Eddie's childhood. As a child Eddie was happy, naive and carefree. He was not yet depressed. The white paint of the rides could represent Eddie's "cleannes" as a child. The first rides, weight guessers, fortune tellers and dancing gypsies are symbolic of kids love for the simple things in life. As the novel shows Eddie's experiences later in his life, the rides on the pier become newer and complicated as Eddie becomes older and depressed.
The second setting in heaven is a war ground in the Philippians, where Eddie fought during WWII. The sky changes from a blue to a dark grey. The scene is very dark with trees falling, and bombs exploding. This setting is dark because when Eddie was at war he was older and not as "fit" as he was as a child. The darkness of the setting also shows how Eddie is hurt during the War, which is a big part why he is so deppressed with his life.
The third place Eddie goes, in heaven, is a large mountain range surrounding a lake. Eddie sees a diner with neon lights. All of the customers in the diner are from a different year and most seem to be hurt. The diner is there because Ruby wanted to feel as if she had returned to the years when she was younger, when she worked in a diner, and had a simple life. Since the pier had caused her a lot pain and suffering, she wanted all those who had also suffered at Ruby Pier to be safe as well. She also wanted to stay far from the sea and chose the mountains. This setting shows us that, along with Eddie, others have suffered at Ruby Pier: Ruby, Eddie's father and all of the other patrons in the diner.
Before Eddie meets Marguerite in heaven, he finds himself going through many wedding receptions of different types and cultures. The weddings all seem better that his and Marguerite's had been. Eddie had never liked weddings very much. He thought them to be "too full of embarrassing moments" (148). He also stayed away from most receptions because of his injury. In heaven, as he and Marguerite talk they walk through many receptions. Marguerite wanted to take Eddie through the different receptions so he would feel comfortable, unlike he never did on earth during weddings. Also, since Eddie didn't go to most weddings when he was alive, Marguerite missed celebrating weddings with Eddie. Marguerite also chose to be around all of the weddings to show her lesson of the power of love: All of the weddings, no matter the culture, are similar. True love is everywhere and it has no limit.
In the last place in heaven, Eddie is at a river with thousands of kids playing and laughing together. This scene has only happy, safe children; no adults or control. It is in this last setting where Eddie finds the meaning of his life and his career: to keep kids safe. All of the kids in this setting representat of all the kids Eddie kept safe throughout his life at the pier.