Study Guide

Heist Society Quotes

  • Family

    "I'm out of the family business." [...]

    "But are you out of the family?" (2.43 – 2.44)

    If you don't like what your family is doing, you can run away for a while, like Kat does when she goes to Colgan School. But can you ever truly be out of your own family?

    [The bedroom] was beautiful but sad, Kat thought. It needed to feel a beating heart. (3.53)

    Kat's taking in Hale's parents bedroom here. Her description suggests that Hale's parents aren't really involved in his life in all. As someone with a dead mother and an absent father, Kat is pretty attuned to Hale's lack of support on the family front.

    It wasn't until years later that [Kat] realized it hadn't been a fun family outing—that actually they'd been casing the Louvre at the time. (4.1)

    We guess the family that steals together, stays together.

    The most dangerous thing about W.W. Hale the Fifth was that, when he grew up, he really wanted to be her father. (5.29)

    Creepy, much? Isn't there some kind of a romantic tension between Hale and Kat? And how much do we know about this Hale guy, anyway? We wonder if he's an assassin. Or worse: Donald Trump.

    "Those of us who don't abandon our families are able to learn these things." (8.37)

    Gabrielle has mastered that old family manipulation tactic for getting someone to do what you want them to do: the guilt trip. It's like a tar pit dragging you in. You just can't avoid a good guilting.

    Uncle Eddie seemed to be measuring [Kat] against her mother as a thief. [...] Her father seemed startled by her, as if his eyes had mistaken her for his long-lost wife. (14.26)

    Another thing families do well: they judge each other a lot. But all that judging isn't mean-spirited; it's just a by-product of knowing each other so well, and for so long. How could you not judge your closest friends' and family members' decisions, when you think you know them, and what's good for them?

    A part of [Kat] wondered whether [Taccone] had more faith in her than her own uncle, maybe even more than her own father. (19.18)

    As we said earlier, families can judge each other like nobody's business. (Get off our back, mom. Jeez.) Sometimes all these judgmental remarks that go a-flying at the dinner table can be pretty discouraging. We hope you'd never turned to a crime boss for comfort, though. You better wise up, Kat.

    "This is my life, Hale. Mine. My father. My job. My responsibility." (23.44)

    Kat is super possessive of her family. Even though she gets frustrated at them, she still makes it her life's mission to do anything she can to protect them. That's love.

    "[Nick's] not part of the family." "Yeah, well—" Kat sighed. "Neither are you." (23.57 – 23.58)

    Ouch. This remark burns so bad, we almost dropped the book. Even though Hale isn't related to Kat by blood, he seems to be just as much a part of Kat's family as her Uncle Eddie. So she knows this jab will hurt.

    Kat thought about Hale's mother's empty room and empty house. (24.86)

    Poor Hale. Kat says he's not a part of her family, but this quote makes it seem like he's not even a part of his own family. Sigh.

  • Respect and Reputation

    There had been a time when honor meant something at the Colgan School. (1.4)

    Private schools are a place where reputation is practically a form of currency. (Like Hogwarts but without the magic. Reputation is your magic.) You'd think Kat would have fit in better here, but she was trying to keep a low profile at the time—on account of her family being a family of thieves and all.

    "All who wish to seek justice shall find the truth. Honor for one [...] Honor for all." (1.23)

    The Colgan School motto eerily resembles a thieving code… if Kat and her friends were dramatic enough to recite a thieving code before a job, which they're not.

    [Kat had] been framed. And Kat didn't dare say what she was thinking: that whoever had done it, they were very, very good. (1.74)

    We get the feeling here that Kat is torn between being angry at having the synthetic wool pulled over her eyes and having respect for the skill of the person who did it. We're erring on the side of "respect," actually.

    When the story of [Kat] crossing the drawbridge would involve not rain but bullets; when the tale of her asking Arturo Taccone of his help would include threats and windows and something involving a pair of antique dueling pistols (which, according to legend, Kat would also steal). (9.38)

    Thieves have a reputation to uphold. Sometimes, this reputation involves a little, shall we say, embellishment. The way stories are woven in this passage, however, exceeds petty embellishment; it's more like the author is calling a fast-food hamburger Filet Mignon.

    Some stories make your hands shake. Sometimes too many details make you fidget in the dark. (10.43)

    Arturo Taccone has a reputation that involves vague stories of menace and mayhem. These stories are more likely to inspire fear than respect. But sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two. Are we right?

    "The old families [...] had names—aliases—that they only used when they were doing things that were too big, too dangerous. [...] They were secret names, Hale. Sacred names." (12.37)

    In the thieving world, one of these Chelovek Pseudominas is like a trophy for having a famous (or infamous) reputation. You have to earn it. Like housewives earn a spot on the show The Real Housewives of… by having reputations for flipping tables and throwing wine at each other.

    The assembly of a crew is a monumental event in a young thief's life. (17.1)

    If thieves had resumes, being a crew leader would be the highlight of those resumes. It's like being the lead singer in the band versus the guy with the awesome kazoo solo.

    "This Romani bloke was the best thief in the land, he was. Until he fell off a guard tower--" "I heard he drowned." (24.25-24.26)

    Having an infamous reputation means that there are going to be all sorts of rumors surrounding your death... at least that's what we heard when we played poker with Andy Kaufman, Elvis, and Michael Jackson last weekend.

    Gregory Wainwright dared to look at [Hale] as if he were merely just another annoying teenager. (24.72)

    The director of the Henley doesn't know Hale's reputation as an all-star thief. Obviously. Because if Wainwright did know Hale's reputation, he probably wouldn't be having a friendly chat with him. Likewise, if Hale had worn a shirt saying, "I Am Visily Romani," their meeting probably wouldn't have gone over as smoothly.

    No one would have ever guessed that seven of the world's most talented teenagers were coming to the Henley for an entirely different sort of lesson. (31.5)

    This is one instance where it's beneficial that the reputations of Kat and her crew are, well, just kids. They're largely unknown. So they get away with thieving famous paintings, right under the Henley security's nose.

  • Lies and Deceit

    Kat was used to looking at a room and seeing all the angles. (1.17)

    Casing a room is pretty much hardwired into Kat's DNA. She can't go into a room without figuring out how to get in it and get out of it without being detected. No wonder she makes a good thief.

    Kat had already passed for a Franciscan nun during a particularly difficult job in Vatican City. (1.67)

    Pretending to be a nun—is nothing sacred? They're not just lying to museum directors now... they're lying to the Pope.

    [Kat] found her passport. She flipped it open and saw the name Melanie O'Hara beside a picture of herself in a red wig. (3.64)

    Kat has at least five alternate identities to rely upon. That's more than Lisbeth Salander. We're impressed.

    "It's fall break [...] I wanted to see how you were doing." (4.16)

    We guess it's not that hard to lie to a master thief if you're related to the guy. Kat's dad never suspects that Kat actually got kicked out of school. Maybe his lack of suspicion is actually a testament to Kat and her dad's strained relationship.

    The best time to pull a con is when the weather should be changing—but isn't. People feel lucky. (6.1)

    It seems that timing is a big factor in pulling off a successful con. You have to find a way to anticipate and control your mark's reactions.

    "You had to use her to help you? Gabrielle!" (8.43)

    While Kat isn't exactly happy that Hale deceived her, she's really mad when she finds out that Gabrielle was in on the game. Why does this lie make Kat so much angrier? What's with her and Gabrielle, anyway?

    The lack of a name worried her. The presence of a girlfriend, [Kat] assured herself, did not. (11.8)

    Kat is deceiving herself here. We get the feeling she'd be pretty bothered if Hale showed up with a girlfriend. A girlfriend who wasn't Kat, that is.

    The downside of being a con artist is that it makes you very hard to con. Even if the lies you tell are to yourself. (15.28)

    We're not sure if Kat does a good job of conning herself or not. She realizes that she can't be a "normal" girl in a "normal" boarding school, but she really seems to have convinced herself that she doesn't have a romantic attraction to Hale. Which doesn't seem true at all.

    "Whatever we do not [...] we do without Uncle Eddie's blessing." (17.10)

    Kat has to convince her relatives to deceive their Uncle Eddie. They'll pretty much be lying to him if they get off their butts and do anything. But maybe Eddie was deceiving Kat and co. with his lack of concern about the situation in order to get them to do the job. Would they have been able to pull it off if they had relied on Eddie's help?

    [The guards] didn't, of course, see that the pictures were really of the positions of the cameras; that their paced steps were mapping out the dimensions of the perimeter wall. (18.11)

    As we know from playing any video game where guards can barely see outside a 45-degree angle, guards are easy to deceive. Especially if you're just pretending to be a goofy teenager taking pictures of yourself. Everyone underestimates Kat and her crew.

  • Morality and Ethics

    "Miss Bishop did willfully... um... steal personal property." (1.24)

    Kat clearly has an ambiguous sense of morality; she's not really upset that she's been accused of stealing the Headmaster's car. She's upset that they think she'd actually get caught if she did do it. Haha.

    [Kat] thought about crime, as she so often had in her fifteen years—ever since the day her father had told her he'd buy her ice cream if she would scream, and keep screaming until one of the guards outside the Tower of London left his post to see what was wrong. (3.62)

    Thieves aren't supposed to want too much—which is ironic, but true. Never live anyplace you can't walk away from. Never own anything you can't leave behind. (4.13)

    This seems to be part of the thief's complicated moral code. You'd think that a person whose job is stealing things would be a little more materialistic. But if you're always trying to be two steps ahead of the cops, you probably shouldn't get too attached to anything.

    "It takes a thief to catch a thief." (14.75)

    In other words, it takes someone with the same moral code (or lack of one) to get into the mindset of another thief. Does this mean author Ally Carter has pulled off a few heists in her day? Probably not. But it's fun to dream.

    "Somebody's playing games! [...] Somebody's having fun! And he doesn't care that other people are going to get hurt because of it." (15.64)

    As a thief, Kat doesn't mind when other people steal things. She does mind, however, if other people get hurt in the process. Especially when those people are a part of her family.

    "We're not stealing from the Henley. We're stealing at the Henley." (25.20)

    Kat makes an interesting ethical distinction here, which, in turn, distinguishes her from, say, Arturo Taccone. Kat and her crew are only stealing what has already been stolen. They're not just taking art from the museum for their own profit or use.

    Every good thief knows that the only job that matters is the next job. (26.7)

    Thieves have pretty good work ethics, too, if we do say so ourselves. Like a model, freelance writer, or daytime soap star, their eyes are always on the next job.

    [Arturo Taccone] was still a common criminal. But then again, Kat realized, so was she. (29.1-29.2)

    What separates Kat from Arturo Taccone, morally speaking? How different are they, really?

    Kat was thinking about Abiram Stein, whispering even if only for herself, "I know someone who has been looking for this." (32.60)

    Even in the middle of an art heist, Kat has a strong moral center. She recognizes Two Boys Running Through a Field of Haystacks and instantly thinks of returning it to Mr. Stein, the man who lost it in World War II.

    "Rest assured, the Angel is safe and she is happy. The enclosed belongs to you. It is time that it, too, returned to its family." (37.59)

    Here, Visily Romani shows that even he has an ethical code. Perhaps his plan all along was to get these paintings returned to their rightful owners. We're just not sure why he'd do that, or why he sends Kat this painting at the end. It's sequel time, Shmoopers.

  • Women

    No one knew for certain when the trouble started at the Colgan School. Some members of its alumni association blamed the decision to admit girls. (1.1)

    The world of private universities, so often ruled by Headmasters as opposed to Headmistresses, is a total boy's club. Forreal. Even though things have changed for the better.

    "I didn't know there were so many math guys," Hale said. [...] Kat cleared her throat. "And women," he added. "Math women." (7.3)

    Kat's not content to let Hale unconsciously perpetuate the stereotype that women are bad at math. We kind of wish Kat's crew had a female tech expert, instead of that dude Simon.

    It was too bad that [Gabrielle's] head hadn't filled out quite as completely as her bra. (8.18)

    Wow. Kat goes pretty fast from wanting to be a strong, independent woman to snarking on her cousin. What's the deal with that? Why is she so nasty to Gabrielle?

    [Kat] had simply been so long inside boys' clubs that she forgot sometimes that, anatomically at least, she was not a younger, smaller version of the men who sat around Uncle Eddie's kitchen table. (9.14)

    Once again, we see how the environment you're raised in inevitably shapes your values. Kat values stereotypically masculine ideals: level-headedness, strength, and confidence. Which is why she often views herself as one of the boys. (And why, we're guessing, she sometimes has trouble viewing herself as an attractive woman.)

    How was it possible for Gabrielle to be even prettier when she slept, when Kat herself could rarely wake up without encountering at least a little bit of drool. (11.66)

    Even though Kat values stereotypically masculine personality traits, she sometimes yearns to be a bit elegant and feminine, too. Boys drool, girls rule, that type of thing.

    If you lived in 1921, and if you had more money than time, and if you were a woman, then there were very few acceptable ways in which you were allowed to fill your days. (18.1)

    The woman imagined in this passage, an art collector, would have been Kat had she lived in 1921. Fast forward a hundred years, though, and Kat is a globe-trotting art thief. We're not sure if that's considered "acceptable," but it sounds a bit more exciting to us than "spinster."

    When [the guards] remembered the girl with the long legs and the short skirt who lay on the cold marble floor, she was too unconscious and too pretty for anyone at the Henley to stay made for long. (18.35)

    Having a "babe" is a necessary part of any heist. It's the perfect way to exploit a weakness in the boys' club: a weakness for the opposite sex. And, as we see, Gabrielle uses her feminine charms to her advantage. She's cleverer than Kat thinks, in our opinion.

    Amelia Bennet [...] was not the only woman [in Interpol]. And yet, in an agency that was in every way a part of the Old Boy network, it was impossible for anyone to look at her without first registering that was neither old nor boy. (21.1)

    Amelia Bennett is pretty much Kat's adult counterpart, just on the other side of the law. Don't you think these two have a lot in common? Why would the author draw a parallel between these two characters, do you think?

    "Take Angus and Hamis. Take Simon. [...] Take... Nick, if that's what you want." (29.31)

    Hale is mad at Kat for taking Gabrielle, the only other female in the group, to meet Taccone. Now, go back and reread all of his suggestions. What do they have in common? Male anatomy. Is Hale right to suggest Kat needs to take a man with her for protection? Or is he just being overbearing, and maybe a little sexist?

    "Seriously, Kat," Simon said, inching closer, "when did you get boobs?" (30.11)

    Okay, we know Simon's a little sheltered and awkward, but reaching for Kat's breasts is a little much. However, all the attention is a little flattering for Kat, because she usually feels like one of the boys.

  • Art and Culture

    It's okay to break the rules, but only sometimes, and only if you know them very, very well. (6.9)

    Thieving is like art, or like writing: you have to know the rules in order to break them. And you have to know when's the right time to break them, too.

    "We practice a very old art, Katarina [...] It is kept alive not by blood [...] but by practice." (6.23)

    Just like with visual artistry, talent for thieving isn't genetic. A great artist—or thief—can train anyone, whether or not they are related by blood.

    Is a forged Picasso any less beautiful than a real one? (8.40)

    Boy howdy, this is an atomic bomb of a question, isn't it? Does a work have to be authentic in order to appreciate it? If so, why are there pictures of art in books? And why do people hang posters of famous paintings on their walls?

    "This is no collection! [...] They are prisoners of war." (14.54)

    Mr. Abiram Stein doesn't believe that art should be kept in a basement. He wants his stolen paintings hung up so people can appreciate them, not unjustly hidden away as a result of wartime thievery.

    "[The painting] was commissioned by a wealth French official. [...] It hung in the oldest son's home in Paris until the German occupation." (14.66)

    One of the most interesting parts of Heist Society is its connection to one of the darker moments in art history: when the Nazis stole paintings from cities they plundered in World War II. This actually happened. Why did the Nazis do this, do you think? What did stealing art allow them to accomplish?

    "The men those men gave it to were evil. These paintings were traded for terrible favors in terrible times." (14.79)

    Is receiving stolen art an evil crime? Assume that Taccone did not know the paintings were stolen by Nazis—should he be responsible for returning them?

    Tourists and scholars alike stood shoulder to shoulder, heel to toe, gawking, waiting to see the place where a card had mysteriously appeared in the middle of the night. (15.34)

    Visily Romani has turned con artistry into a legit art, as in, art that exists in a museum. The tourists and scholars are looking at and analyzing his act, and basically ignoring the paintings in the museum. If the public is the court of opinion, Romani has legitimized the art of the con.

    "Purchased in 1946 by Veronica Henley herself, it is widely considered one of the most valuable works of art in the world--the most valuable, according to Mrs. Henley. When reporters asked her shortly before her death which piece she would rather have for her collection, this painting or the Mona Lisa, Mrs. Henley said, 'Let the Louvre keep Leonardo's lady; I have his angel.'" (24.50)

    What is it about art that causes the super wealthy to get so attached to it? Mrs. Henley speaks of the painting as though it is her daughter, or at least a prized handbag chihuahua.

    The Henley's least impressive collection had become Katarina Bishop's favorite. Maybe it was the simple brushstrokes, the subdued use of light. Or maybe Kat was simply drawn to the other paintings that hung in that room—the ones the tourists couldn't see. (31.44)

    For a book that's so focused on art, our main character, Kat, doesn't seem to be too interested in the stuff. She's just into the art industry for the thrill of the chase.

    "The paintings live. People know their stories now. A new generation will hear their tales. And they will hang in the great museums of the world and not in a prison." (37.23)

    What stories do paintings tell, beyond the scenes that lie within their frames? We think the paintings Kat recovers tell the tales of history—of World War II.

  • The Home

    Hale was only truly fond of the old, six-hundred acre estate in rural New York. At least, that was the only place where Kat had ever heard him say... "We're home." (3.1-3.2)

    Who would have thought that a boy whose family owns more homes than a Hollywood star wouldn't feel at home in most of them? Why do you think that is? And what makes the New York estate different?

    The air always smelled like the Old Country [...] cabbage and carrots and things simmering for long hours over slow heat in cast-iron pots that would outlive them all. It was, in a word, home,and yet Kat didn't dare say so. (6.10-6.11)

    Home is a place that appeals to all the senses. But smells seem particularly interwoven with our memories. What smells remind you of home?

    Arturo Taccone's home was really a palace made of stone and wood, surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. [...][ It was no paradise--it was more like a prison. (8.61)

    If Taccone's home is a prison, does that make him the warden of his own jail? We have a feeling that Taccone doesn't think his home is a prison. He probably prefers using the terms "fortress" or "heavily guarded castle" to describe the place.

    "Johan Schuloff was a banker in a small but prosperous town near the Austrian border in 1938. He had a lovely daughter. A beautiful wife. A nice home." (14.61)

    Mr. Schuloff here was living the American dream. Well, we guess it was the Austrian dream, too. But a home doesn't necessarily mean security, especially not in times of war. The Nazis took all of that away.

    Kat's only home was a brownstone in New York, and the man who ruled that household had strictly forbidden her from doing what she was doing. (20.1)

    The Romani heist is a big deal for Kat in many ways. In a way, Kat is risking her home by doing it. She's afraid that Uncle Eddie will cast her out of the one place she loves. Sad.

    [Kat] wanted to go home. Wherever that was. (22.1)

    Knowing Uncle Eddie would disapprove of her actions, Kat feels lost. Although Kat normally feels at home at Uncle Eddie's, perhaps it isn't her true home. Her home should be hers unconditionally, not dependent on whether or not its owner approves of her actions. Right?

    That night [...] [Kat] left without permission, and she might never really belong inside again. (23.2)

    Again, Kat's homes seem conditional. Here, she's done something that she thinks Hale will disapprove of. Now she's afraid that he won't welcome her into his home anymore, either. Poor girl.

    "Marcus, take us home." As they eased into traffic, [Kat] let the warmth of the car wash over her. She didn't protest as Hale slid his arm around her and pulled her to rest against his chest. It was somehow softer there than she remembered. (36.67)

    Maybe, to Kat, home isn't a physical place; home is where Hale's heart is.

    "Are [the paintings] home?" "Some," he assured her. [...] "But for the others, Katarina, I'm afraid their homes"--he struggled for words--"are gone." (37.21-37.22)

    Where is home for a painting? Is home in a museum? Who does art really belong to, if anyone at all?

    [Kat] noticed that, for the first time she could remember, her uncle's brownstone didn't feel too warm. The kitchen, she thought, was just right. (37.42)

    Kat's acting a little like Goldilocks here. But she realizes that, though she's not a master thief yet, she's still growing. So it's easier for her to feel home when she's more comfortable with herself.

  • Exploration

    Kat used to love Paris. She remembered being there with her parents—eating croissants, visiting a pyramid, and carrying six red balloons. (4.1)

    Kat's memories of traveling are colored by her parents' ulterior motives for their vacations. But do these memories still hold value, or are they tarnished forever by her parents' thieving, scheming ways?

    I was thinking about Cannes for Christmas. (4.61)

    It seems that Kat's father is more comfortable exploring the world than staying in one place. We have to wonder if he'd be such a world traveler if he weren't a thief. Perhaps he only does the whole thieving thing to fund his vacations.

    Vegas was a town where almost everyone was hoping to get something for nothing—an entire city of thieves. (7.1)

    Vegas is pretty much exactly what we've learned to expect television. In other words, you can lie, cheat, and steal in Vegas and no one'll blink twice.

    [Kat] was in Italy. With a smart and handsome boy. Standing on a private jet. The world lay quite literally at her feet. (8.1)

    Getting to see all of these different countries, with a handsome dude in tow, makes being an art thief sound like an awesome job. (One we don't have on our careers page... yet.) But Kat has other things to worry about than good-looking towns and good-looking people. Con artistry doesn't lend itself to carefree living.

    "Ich entschuldige mich für die Stunde, Herr Stein." (14.5)

    A little bit of untranslated German goes a long way here. We think this quote adds to the worldly nature of the book. According to Google translate, this line means, "I apologize for the hour." We were hoping for something dramatic like, "You killed my father; prepare to die," but we'll have to take what we get.

    "Warsaw." Church bells began to chime. "We need to go to Warsaw." (14.35)

    Kat says this the way we might say, "we need to go to that vegan Thai restaurant"—super casually. Flying across time zones is no big deal to her.

    There are two dozen truly great museums in the world. [...] But, of course, even great museums are not created equal. (15.1)

    We actually get to explore museums through this book, not just lots of countries. However, the main museum featured in Heist Society, the Henley, is fictional. So is the art it contains. Do the author's "lies" change our experience of the art industry in this novel?

    Kat used to love Paris, but as she walked away from her father that afternoon, the sidewalks seemed too crowded and foreign and cold. (22.1)

    This is the second time we're told that Kat used to love Paris. But, apparently, she doesn't anymore. Hm, maybe Paris isn't really all it's cracked up to be. It's can't all be Amelie and Eiffel Tower.

    La Casa di Vetro was neither Rome's most expensive restaurant nor its most exclusive. [...] There were no tourists here, no crowds—only decadent smells and soft candlelight. (29.1)

    It's important for thieves to blend in like locals, and that's why Arturo Taccone dines in a place where the locals dine—not at a tourist trap.

    They did not go to Cannes for Christmas. [..] Kat and her father joined the throng that descended upon [Uncle Eddie's] old Brownstone. (37.1)

    Sometimes all that exploration is a little too much for Kat. Sometimes you just need to stay in with your family, wherever that may be.