by Scott Westerfeld
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Tally's Scarred Hand and Other Hands
If you went through and underlined every time Tally referred to her scarred hands, you'd probably get a blister because it happens so frequently. But you'd also find that her scarred hand comes up all the time when friendship is on the line:
- When Tally breaks in to New Pretty Town in order to see her BFF Peris: "she waited, rubbing the scar on her right palm. Finally, Tally sighed and whispered, 'Best friends forever,' and took a step forward into the light" (1.36). Saying "best friends forever" and rubbing her scar push Tally to find her friend.
- And she rubs her scar whenever she makes promises to any of her friends: "'Okay. I swear.' Tally held up her hand with the scar she and Peris had made" (8.77). So there, she's talking to Shay and she still rubs the scar that she made with Peris. That's a clue that the scar no longer means "I'm friends with Peris" but something more general, like "I'm friends with you."
- Then, when Peris reminds her that she made him a promise, too, guess what she does? "She touched the scar on her palm, still there, even though Peris's had been rubbed away" (15.61).
So we're guess you can tell why we're saying that her scarred hand is a symbol (at least for Tally) of friendship and promises to friends.
Which is also why it's interesting that hands are what sets these friends apart. For instance, David's hands prove that he's a different sort of kid: his hands are "as rough as the wood grain of the table in the dining hall, the skin along his thumb as hard and dry as leather cracking with age" (26.50). Of course, because he has rough (and bigger) hands, he doesn't need his old gloves to work, which is why he gives his old gloves to Tally… which then makes Shay very angry. So hands, the symbol of friendship, eventually end up tearing friends apart. Hello, irony.