by Janne Teller
Nothing Theme of Appearances
Quick, name two places in which appearances are really, really important. If you said "7th grade" and "the art world," give yourself a gold star, because now you're thinking like a Danish YA author (in which case maybe you should get your Dannebrog on and give yourself a red star with a white cross.) In Nothing, we see that adults are fronting just as much as kids are, but adults are doing it for money. Case in point: the newspaper reporter who at first denounces the heap of meaning, then after the MOMA deems it worth millions, says he didn't recognize the art at first because he only saw it from one side.
Questions About Appearances
- Do you agree with Pierre Anthon that we all wear masks to hide who we really are? If so, why? What might the world look like if we all took them off for a day?
- Agnes wants to be a fashion designer, working in an industry that makes millions generating beauty and artifice (in other words—masks). What are some other professions that do the same?
- Ursula-Marie wears a very striking mask every day: she dyes her hair blue. Yet when she's forced to sacrifice her braids, Agnes says she won't be Ursula-Marie anymore. Do you think it could be argued that she's even more authentically Ursula-Marie without them? Are there times—for example, in the case of unnatural hair colors, tattoos, and piercings—when the outside we construct makes us more authentically ourselves, rather than less?
Chew on This
Being an adult just means you've had more time to develop your masquerade. You become less authentic the older you get.
When Agnes sees Jon-Johan crying before Sofie cuts off his finger, she realizes she prefers who he pretends to be to who he really is.