59 pages 1 hour read

Markus Zusak

I Am The Messenger

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2002

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Symbols & Motifs

Playing Cards

As symbols of fate, cards play a vital role in the novel’s plot. Playing cards are associated with good and bad luck, and they are often used as metaphors for destiny, such as when people refer to the hand they’ve been dealt in life. In Ed’s case, the four aces and the joker represent a tangible opportunity to change his life. Ed senses this potential from the moment he holds the ace of diamonds, which he calls “a piece of destiny” (26). As the story continues, the messages are often emotionally and occasionally physically painful for Ed to deliver, and there are times when Ed wishes that someone else had been chosen to play the part of the messenger: “I never thought I wouldn’t want four aces. In a card game, you pray for a hand like that” (117). The fact that four aces make such an enviable hand reassures the reader that Ed’s time as the messenger is ultimately for the best even though it is often dangerous and almost invariably difficult. This hope is vindicated because the cards help Ed realize his full potential and the power of human connections. By accepting the cards, Ed changes not only his own fate but the lives of everyone the aces send him to.

Related Titles

By Markus Zusak