Study Guide

I Am the Messenger Identity

By Markus Zusak

Identity

You're a dead man. I hear his voice again, and I see the words on my face when I get back in the cab in the rearview mirror. It makes me think of my life, my nonexistent accomplishments and my overall abilities in incompetence. A dead man, I think. He's not far wrong. (1.4.45)

Maybe it's just us, but if we were threatened by a bank robber, we wouldn't take it lightly. Not Ed. He thinks about it for a second and then almost agrees with the robber's threat. Ed figures his life doesn't really amount to much, so he might as well be a goner. Yikes.

Now piss off, Ed, I think as I walk out. It's what she was thinking, I'm sure. I like being Jimmy. (1.9.93)

After Ed pretends to be Milla's long lost love Jimmy, he thinks about what it would be like to actually be the guy. Too bad he died sixty years ago. We don't actually think Ed wants to be a corpse; he just wants to be loved and wanted, and he certainly doesn't get any of that at home. We think you have to not like who you really are in order to want to be someone else.

Inside, I laugh. Me? A saint? I list what I am. Taxi driver. Local deadbeat. Cornerstone of mediocrity. Sexual midget. Pathetic cardplayer. (1.Q.20)

When Sophie asks Ed if he's a saint, he's stunned. His own mom treats him like garbage, so being called something so holy isn't run of the mill for our main guy. We're interested in the way he describes himself as nothing but a deadbeat. Ouch. But do you disagree with his assessment of himself?

"They also seem to know me unbelievably well— almost as well as I know myself." "Yeah, but," Audrey begins, "who knows you real well, Ed?" And that's just it. "No one," I say. (1.Q.56)

Audrey is the one person whose opinion Ed seems to really value. Her idea that no one truly knows her part-time lover is surprising because everyone has someone who knows them. That's the thing with Ed. He's so routine that anyone can figure him out, but at the same time, even his closest friends aren't really sure who he is.

Just Ed. I turn. Just Ed walks on. Just Ed walks fast. He begins an attempt at a run. But he trips. (2.4.2.2)

Burn. Of all the insults Ed hears (and there are a lot), this one seems to cut him the deepest. Audrey calls him "Just Ed," which makes him feel about as useful as a Christmas tree in July. This is all anyone expects from him. Did you notice how he switches into the third person here, too?

For a second or two I'm lost. Inside those thoughts. Inside those people. When I climb back out and find myself still sitting next to Audrey, I answer her question. (2.4.36)

When Audrey is asking him about the cards, he thinks she won't understand why he's doing what he is, but even he doesn't really get it. He's so lost in his thoughts most of the time that he doesn't even talk to his friends about what's happening, and how he's changing.

When I put the toaster back down in its familiar place, I catch my reflection in it— even if it is a touch filthy. My eyes are uncertain to the point of being injured. For just that instant I see the pitiful nature of my life. This girl I can't have. These messages I feel I can't deliver. . . . But then I see the eyes become determined. (2.7.81)

This is one of the only times we hear Ed thinking about how pathetic his life is and wanting to change it. Sure he talks about how he amounts to nothing or doesn't like who he is a lot, but most of the time he doesn't think about doing anything about it. Here we see he's determined. Finally.

I'm stunned. I've been called a lot of things many times— but nobody has ever told me it's an honor to know me. I suddenly remember Sophie asking if I was a saint and me replying that I'm just another stupid human. This time, I allow myself to hear it. (2.8.62)

After the priest tells him he's a saint, Ed finally lets himself hear it. Even if he hasn't been one his whole life, or if no one else believes it, the priest still does, and that has to count for something.

For a moment I feel glad to be called simple, no-problems Ed. Not Edward, Edmund , Edwin. Just Ed. Sheer mediocrity feels nice for a change. (2.10.23)

At first Ed took this as a massive insult from Sophie, but now he's kind of okay with being normal. We think it's interesting that this is the exact thing that the mystery guy at the end wants to change about Ed's life. Do you think Ed's still fine with being ordinary at the end?

"Yes." She confirms it. "You used to just be." She explains this like she doesn't really want to hear it. It's more a case that she has to say it. "Now you're somebody, Ed. I don't know everything about what you've done and what you've been through, but I don't know— you seem further away now." (3.8.45)

Hmm… so Ed was a nobody and Audrey liked that about him, even though his mom was constantly ragging on him to change. It's not just that everyone has low expectations for his life—we also learn that this is how people want him to behave in some ways. For Audrey, the ordinary way Ed acts is safe to her, and she wants him to stay that way.

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