Five People You Meet In Heaven
This story takes place in several different locations in both heaven and on earth. The story begins at Ruby Pier. Eddie grew up very close to Ruby Pier because his father worked there for a living. Ruby Pier was an important setting in Eddie's childhood; the story flashes back many times to Eddie's childhood involving incidents at Ruby Pier. Ruby Pier is also where Eddie had his career as a maintenance man and is the very place where he was killed on his birthday. When Eddie is in heaven, which is the bulk of the story and also where he learns the five lessons, he visits five different settings: Ruby Pier, the battlegrounds on which he fought in the war, mountains, various wedding receptions and a river. 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 story; it was the Ruby Pier Eddie remembers from his childhood. When he awakes he noticesthe primitive, simple, amusements and their crisp white paint. This is the apartment in which he used to live, the main setting is heaven, so it's basically taking place in the sky and the clouds.
Symbols in the Book
The protagonist and main character around who the story centers; at the start of the story, he is killed on his 83rd birthday. When he awakes in heaven, he is taken on a journey to meet five people whose lives intertwined with his in many ways which he never expected.
The antagonist, belligerent drunk, not very supportive or caring towards his sons. He worked at Ruby Pier and often returned home drunk and was violent toward Eddie and Joe. He hurt Eddie in three major ways, throughout his life, by silence, violence, and neglect. He saves his friend, Mickey Shea, from drowning which causes him to catch fatal pneumonia.
The first person Eddie meets in heaven. He was a sideshow worker at Ruby Pier when Eddie was a child. He was killed as a result of Eddie running in the street after his ball. The Blue Man teaches Eddie his first lesson, which is that there are no random acts in life, and that all incidents are intertwined in some way.
The second person Eddie meets in heaven; his former war captain. He explained that, although he shot Eddie, he kept his promise by not leaving him behind and even sacrificed 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.
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 damage he caused in his life.
Eddie’s wife and only true love. Marguerite was the only happiness in Eddie's life. She is the fourth person he meets in heaven and she teaches him the lesson that love is not lost with death.
The fifth person Eddie meets in heaven. Tala was the little girl who Eddie saw crawling into the burning fort during the war. Although he lived most of his life in denial, he finds out in heaven that he did kill her in the fire. She teaches Eddie that his life did have a purpose which was to keep children safe at the pier.
The start and end of everything. Life is a cycle of up and downs.
Everyone's life is worth while. Everyone's life is intertwined with each others and with others we shape ourselves.
There are two major conflicts in this story; the first being Eddie vs. himself. When Eddie was young he never had the desire 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 the remainder of his life. He never had another career aside from Ruby Pier and he eventually moved back into the same apartment building, where he grew up, to take care of his mother. We can tell that Eddie internally stores a lot of regret, hatred and anger about his life. This conflict is resolved when he meets Tala in heaven. She helps him realize that his life did have 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 any signs of encouragement. He would often get drunk and violently yell at and beat Eddie. After Eddie returned injured from the war, his father yelled at him and tried to hit him; Eddie blocked his father's attempt and his father never spoke to him again. Eddie feels that his father damaged him in three ways: neglect, violence and silence. This conflict is resolved when Eddie meets Ruby in heaven; she teaches Eddie to let go of his anger and forgive his father.
The resolution of the story unfolds immediately after the climax. Eddie’s worst fear had come true: he had killed an innocent child during the war while burning down the camp. After he learns this, Tala leads Eddie to the resolution in the fifth lesson. The outcome of the novel is that Eddie realizes his life had a purpose which was keeping the children safe at the pier
- Blue Man: Everything happens for a reason. There are no random events in life. All lives and experiences are interconnected in some way, and even the little things you do can affect other people's lives and experiences dramatically.
- The Captain: Sacrifices are a part of life. Everyone makes these sacrifices. Some sacrifices are big, and others are day-to-day small sacrifices, but they all make an impact in other people's lives.
- Ruby: The importance of releasing anger and granting forgiveness. There is always more than one side to a story.
- Marguerite The power of love, even after death. There are multiple forms of love, some stronger than others. Lost love is the strongest kind of love, the kind that can be felt even across enormous distances.
- Tala: There's always a purpose for your life. You live for a reason the same way that people die for a reason. Where you are today is a combination of all your past actions, decisions, and the way the people around you have affected you.