Lena Duchannes, her name sounds like rain. Shh, listen. Hear that? Oh, don't be scared. Just calmly move away from the windows. That's just the pounding fury of hurricane force winds. Lena must be angry. But rain can be cleansing, you know. Remember the end of The Shawshank Redemption where Andy Dufresne (another name that rhymes with rain) twirls in the refreshing downpour? Gatlin could use a good cleansing, and Lena's here to provide it.
Eye Do Declare!
In case Ethan's dreams didn't give us a strange feeling about Lena from the get-go, we know something's up when Ethan encounters her on the road. At first he doesn't notice her; all he sees are "a pair of huge green eyes [staring] back at [him] from the middle of the road" (9.11.9).
He thinks it might be some kind of animal in the road. He even says later that her eyes "were huge and unnaturally green, an electric green, like the lightning from the storm. […] She almost didn't look human" (9.11.15). We picture her looking like an anime character or maybe Allison Harvard.
Amma did tell Ethan that "the eyes are the windows to the soul" (2.37), and they're definitely a big clue as to how Lena is feeling. In case you miss all the broken glass and cracking plaster, Lena's eyes crackling like lightning probably means she's a bit miffed.
But her eyes are most important at the end of the novel, when Lena does something that, as far as we know, no Caster has ever done before: she manages to bypass the Claiming. Unclaimed, Lena is neither Dark nor Light, neither good nor evil. Her eyes, one green, the other a hazel-y gold, symbolize her dual nature.
This young woman has been conflicted about who she is inside for the whole novel. She's consistently afraid that she's going to go Dark and destroy the ones she loves. And you know what? Maybe she's capable of it. If we go by what her eyes say, we see that she has it in her… somewhere.
Lena's a bit dark on the inside, but this extends to her appearances, as her wardrobe shows. If you were to scope out Lena's laundry room (do Casters use washing machines or magic?), it would be stocked from floor to ceiling with Woolite Dark. In a town where all the girls seem to be bleached-blonde, deeply tanned, and thickly lacquered, Lena really stands out. Tyra Banks would approve of how Lena owns her style from H to T.
From her raven-black hair to her well-worn boots to the black ink all over her hand—like henna done goth-style—Lena has a look all her own: "She was wearing a purple T-shirt, with a skinny black dress over it that made you remember how much of a girl she was, and trashed black boots that made you forget" (11.59). Even if she didn't have magical powers, she'd definitely still be different. The girl even makes a prison jumpsuit look hot.
Lena's favorite accessory is more than just a fashion statement. Her little chain of memories (also a Kingdom Hearts game title, which might be familiar to the novel's gamer writers) has pieces of things she's collected from all over the world: "a plastic ring from a bubblegum machine, a safety pin" (9.02.60), "a raven" (9.24.33), "the tab of a soda can" (9.24.37), a "black bead […] of Barbados" (9.24.42-43), and we can only imagine what else.
This chain is especially important to Lena because she's "never had the same house, or the same room for more than a few years." (9.24.45). With the necklace, she can bring her home with her wherever she goes. She's always adding to it, collecting and cherishing new memories. And so, when Ethan gives her a good luck charm, a little silver moon, she adds it to the chain.
The more time Lena and Ethan spend together, the more her necklace becomes representative of her memories with Ethan: "a flattened penny with a hole in it" (2.11.94) from their first date, "a piece of yarn from the red sweater she had worn to go parking at the water tower" (2.11.94), and Ethan's mom's "little paper-clip star" (2.11.94). Lena's not just connected to Ethan, she's practically a member of his family.
Duchannes Family Values
Lena has her own family, too, and they are different, to say the least. They don't even observe the same holidays we do: "Casters don't celebrate Thanksgiving. It's a Mortal holiday'" (11.27.8). No stuffing? No thank you. Lena's family is too busy observing the High Holidays, wearing weird robes, and chanting in Latin to take the time to stuff a turkey. Instead, Lena and her family subscribe to a whole new series of holidays and traditions.
Lena has been around magic her whole life. Her cousin can shape-shift, one uncle can turn into objects (he's like one half of the Wonder Twins, we guess), her aunt can see through time. Lena's definitely used to weird. In fact, it's made her more open-minded. Ethan is so nervous that Lena is going to judge his family at Thanksgiving (which "also meant dinner with [Ethan's] dad in his pajamas" [11.27.15]), but Lena barely bats an eye. A strange, reclusive dad is practically the norm in her family. Her Uncle Macon doesn't even go outside in the daytime. Dad in pajamas? That's nothing.
Her tolerance and open-mindedness definitely set her apart from the typical Gatlin resident. The magic is just the icing on the cake.
Even though Lena has an iconic look on the surface, she's not quite as sure about who she is inside. Lena spends much of the novel struggling with her identity. We know, and she knows, that she has some sort of power over the elements. But our knowledge of her powers ends there—even she doesn't know her own limits. (Dramatic, we know.)
She's not just coming to terms with her magical powers, though. She's actually trying to decide if she's good or evil. That's kind of a big deal, don't you think? And hey, maybe she's a mix of both.
Unfortunately, it's not easy to come by an answer. Lena doesn't even know the most basic element of her identity: her real name. She's called Lena, but the girls in her family don't know their true name until they turn sixteen. How would things be different if you didn't know your real name?
Better to Have Loved Than Lost?
Lena's doing the best she can to lay her life's foundation, and she definitely has Ethan's help. From the time she meets Ethan in the rain, we can tell they're destined to be together. We mean, come on, lightning blows up a nearby tree when they touch! They're just like Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester.
Our girl is still pretty cautious, though. While Ethan definitely subscribes to the better-to-have-loved-than-lost philosophy, Lena sometimes just wants Ethan to get lost. She doesn't want to deal with the heartbreak and thinks that if she retreats from Ethan, it will somehow hurt less to lose him when the inevitable day comes.
Why does she act like this? Why doesn't she just seize the day? Well, maybe it's the natural route someone with Lena's background would take. She's never had roots or a home and she's always moved around, so it makes sense that she would want to run away from Ethan instead of confronting her fate.
Bottom line: Lena owes a lot to Ethan. Without his influence, she probably would have just resigned herself to being Claimed. Instead, she did seize the day. But wait: all she manages to do is repeat Genevieve's mistake, so are they any better off? What do you think? Is this a happy ending?Timeline