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An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines


by John Green

Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

It's hard to forget the mad-scientist math problem Colin comes up with, mostly because he can't shut up about it and insists upon working on it in every moment of his spare time. He wants the answers to questions every teenager who goes through a break-up asks:

  • Who ends a relationship? 
  • Why does it end? 
  • When does it end?

The only thing is though, that Colin works out a mathematical formula to solve these, whereas most of us just eat a bunch of ice cream and binge-watch TV to solve our dating woes. The fact that Colin even has a formula speaks volumes—his whole life revolves around solving the unknowable. He reads and studies until he knows how many Tischlers are in Chicago, or who the junior senator from New Hampshire was in 1873. All that stuff doesn't really matter, but Colin learns it anyway.

So it's no surprise when he has the same approach to relationships—they are like a puzzle that he has to solve. You've probably figured out by now that real life doesn't work that way, and eventually Colin realizes it, too, but as he struggles away with his theorem, we are reminded about his social awkwardness, his desire to make a brilliant impact on the world, and what gets lost in the present when we're too focused on the past and future.

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