The Spectacular Now
by Tim Tharp
Aimee's Purple Coat
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
It's hard to get close to a girl if she's wearing a giant, puffy, purple shell of nerdiness.
Coat. We mean giant, puffy, purple coat.
When Sutter first starts to hang out with Aimee, he really, really does not like her coat. Really. In fact, he says that it's a "huge, down-filled purple monster that makes her look like a giant billiard ball" (29.1). Plus, he thinks the coat will make it harder for him to pair her up with a guy there. (Of course, ironically, he ends up having to rescue her from a guy who's coming on too strong.)
Necking Takes on a Whole New Meaning
When Sutter tries give Aimee a boost of confidence, though, her nerdiness slash coat interferes: "I reach up to give the back of her neck a little squeeze, but her giant puffy collar gets in the way" (29.9).
The coat is actually a physical barrier between them—which makes sense, since he did tell Ricky their relationship was not about sex. The purple coat prevents Sutter from seeing Aimee as she really is—and prevents him from realizing that he's starting to dig her, like, a lot.
No wonder that, as their relationship deepens, Aimee stops wearing the coat—it's "in the back of the closet now" (47.13-14). And you know who isn't hiding in any closet?
Aimee. Sutter has helped her break out of her shell, but that doesn't mean it's not still there, in her closet, for her to put on again if it gets too cold.
And that, of course, leaves us—and you, dear Shmoopers—with some questions. Would Sutter still like her, if she kept wearing it? Do you think she stopped wearing it for him – or because of him? After Sutter breaks up with her, do you think she'll get the coat back out?