The Truth About Forever
by Sarah Dessen
The Beach House
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Can a moose head really mean that much?
It does to Macy and Caroline, who love every detail of their dad's old beach house—even that weird moose head over the fireplace. The house is so full of their dad's personality: it was his bachelor pad before he was married, his fishing place afterwards, and their family vacation place all together:
[T]he beach shack was my dad. I knew if he was haunting any place, it would be there. (3.85)
But because it holds so many memories, Macy and her mom have avoided the beach house since he died, not wanting to go through the pain of missing him again.
Love Shack, Baby
When Caroline decides to help them move on by renovating the house and vacationing there, it's definitely an uphill battle. Deborah, for one, has totally buried herself in the business of building new houses, ones without memories or pasts; and she majorly fights against the idea of preserving the beach house for its history. And her refusal to vacation there seems to represent her refusal to deal with the pain.
Macy's emotions are also mirrored in the beach house—namely, in what shape it's in. Here's what we mean. At first, the house is totally falling apart: "It's sitting there, rotting" (6.86). But as Caroline works on it—and on her family—its condition slowly improves. And Macy's mindset improves right alongside it.
So when the house is finally finished, Macy's ready to face the past. Just one thing: her mom still isn't. Not until her breakdown at the party does she finally slow down enough to visit: "In the beginning, it had been hard to walk through the door. […] But it was easier now." (22.15) And when the Queens finally take that vacation, they're on their way to some major healing.