Study Guide

Jacob Have I Loved Appearances

By Katherine Paterson

Appearances

Your mother probably told you that you should never judge a book by its cover. But heck, all of us judge books by their covers—and we judge people, too. We totally judge people, and appearances are definitely part of that.

In Jacob Have I Loved, Louise worries a whole lot about appearances. Hers is rather second rate compared to that of her perfect sister, Caroline, but then again, Louise feels second rate compared to her perfect sister in just about every way. Louise sees Caroline as beautiful and feminine and graceful, while she's stuck wandering around in dirty overalls and smells like crab. It's not a pretty picture, but the beauty here is only skin deep: Louise might want a makeover on the outside, but what she needs is a makeover on the inside.

Questions About Appearances

  1. Do you think Louise is actually less attractive than Caroline? Or, is this just how she sees herself? Give evidence from the text to support your answer.
  2. Why do you think Louise only sees Call as potential husband material when he's looking all suave in his uniform? What does this reveal about Louise?
  3. Why is Louise so obsessed with hands and what they say about a person? To jump-start your answer, swing by the "Symbols" section.

Chew on This

Louise believes that Caroline looks like the women in advertisements because—like ladies in ads—Louise only sees an airbrushed, superficial version of her sister.

Call never thinks of Louise as a love interest because she never sees him this way, while Caroline most definitely does.

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