76 pages 2 hours read

Nick Hornby

About a Boy

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1998

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Symbols & Motifs

The Dead Duck

The duck Marcus accidentally kills with a loaf of bread becomes symbolic for him. When Marcus kills the duck, he admits to himself that “he’d been trying to hit it on the head with a piece of sandwich, but he tried to do all sorts of things, and none of them had ever happened before” (54). Unable to accept the undesirable consequence of throwing a bulky French loaf at the duck, Marcus reasons that he picked a “pathetic” duck that had “something wrong with it” (54). Marcus feels a confused mixture of guilt and bad luck after succeeding at something he did not wish to do. Part of his terror arises from the fact that the true reason for the duck’s death remains inexplicable.

Prior to sending him off to the park, Fiona tells Marcus that she needs him to go because “they didn’t do each other any good” (43). Marcus immediately wonders how he has harmed Fiona and cannot think of a “single thing” (43). However, he subconsciously worries that Fiona has several reasons to show how Marcus has let her down. His confusion of emotions after accidentally killing the duck, and his reasoning that the duck must have already had something wrong with it, are a

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By Nick Hornby