Study Guide

Marv in I Am the Messenger

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You gotta love this argumentative, opinionated guy who claims he's got more money than he knows what to do with but still drives an old, beat up Falcon. If the bank robbery is any indication, then Marv likes to create trouble wherever he goes. Ed tells us that his friend "never shuts up " (1.2.5), and we're inclined to believe him since it's Marv's big mouth that attracts the burglar's attention in the bank in the first place.

Plus he's always going on about just how much money he's got saved in the bank for a rainy day. And yet, there's so much more to Marv than being the resident loud mouth and all-around punk.

When Ed needs help getting the word out about the rave at Father O'Reilly's church, he turns to Marv, and the guy steps right up. Even though Ed feels like he does nothing but walk away from the guy most of the time, the pair share a special moment under the stars, breaking the law. Literally. Ed tells us:

I don't know about Marv, but I feel a camaraderie as we kneel down and do the paint job. It feels like youth as we write the words. At one stage, I look across at my friend. Marv the argumentative. Marv the tight arse with his money. Marv with the girl who vanished. (2.8.42)

We sense there's a story behind all of these descriptions about Marv… and we're right.

The Girl Who Vanished

There's more to Marv than meets the eye. We first get a sense of this when he gets on the defensive about his beat up car being important. We're not sure why, but for whatever reason, Marv will not let go of that car, even when it's super obvious that he should.

As we get to know Marv a bit better, we learn that he bought the car to take out some chick—Suzanne Boyd—who moved away from town. Little did we (and Ed) know, though, that the reason Suzanne moved away was because she got knocked-up. Ed's journey with Marv is perhaps one of the most touching in the book because it involves the reunion of a dad and his kid, which is pretty much always the best thing ever. Even Ed gets choked up looking at his friend with his daughter:

Marv's smile and the giant glass tears on his face are two of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. (4.9.54)

While it's warm and fuzzy to see this reunion, though, Marv's tale works on another, subtler level as well. It show us just how out of touch Ed really is with his posse—Marv is one of his three best friends, after all—in addition to showing us that people are complex, messy, and deep, even when we least expect it.

We first had Marv pegged as the typical complain-y tough guy who doesn't really go anywhere in the novel, but he surprised us with his warm, touching desire to see (and help) his child. In some ways, we're all going through the journey alongside Ed, discovering just how special and beautiful people can be. It just got real.

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