Study Guide

Nothing Revenge

By Janne Teller


I looked down at my bare feet and decided Gerda was going to pay. (5.35)

A hamster for sandals: do you think it's a fair trade, or is Agnes being unnecessarily harsh?

That made Gerda cry even more and say I was the cruelest of anyone she knew. And when she had cried for two hours and was still inconsolable, I started having second thoughts and thinking maybe she was right. But then I saw my green wedge sandals on top of the heap and wouldn't budge. (6.8)

Gerda's sacrifice is the first morally questionable one. After all, Oscarlittle does die at the sawmill. Agnes's insistence that Gerda give up her hamster sets the stage for the increasingly vicious demands that follow.

There were no longer tears on her cheeks. Instead her eyes were glowing with rage. She turned calmly to Hussain and in a gentle voice, her teeth only moderately clenched, said: "Your prayer mat!" (11.17-18)

If Ursula-Marie knew about Hussain's father's temper—and it seems likely she would, since they've gone to school together all their lives—her asking for his prayer mat is an indirect way of asking for his physical punishment for cutting off her hair.

We weren't expecting much of Holy Karl, but this time he surprised us: He wanted Cinderella's head. (15.1)

Lesson learned: don't even mess with Jesus on the Cross, or you'll go down. Holy Karl ain't playin'.

"Everyone else has gotten what they wanted. And if Pretty Rosa wants Jon-Johan's finger, then she should have Jon-Johan's finger." (16.13)

Hmm, this is interesting phrasing. It's no longer about what holds the most meaning for the person giving it up, it's about how the person seeking revenge feels they can best exact it.

Sofie slowly got to her feet, wiped the knife with a handful of sawdust, and then thrust it into the post like before. She wiped her hands on her jeans.

"That's that," she said, and went back to look for the finger. (17.58-59)

Sofie leaves her blood on the rag in the heap, but she ends up wearing her tormenter's blood on her clothing. It's an interesting look at how we reclaim the things that traumatize us.

I don't know what would have happened if Jon-Johan hadn't told on us. What did happen was that the police turned up at the sawmill before we had any chance to get Pierre Anthon out there. (28.15)

After suffering such a big loss, it seems like Jon-Johan might want Pierre Anthon to see the pile more than ever, so it's a bit confusing that he decides to fink on everyone. What's he hoping to accomplish here?

Hussain lashed out at Ursula-Marie for making him give up his prayer mat. Huge Hans kicked into Hussain and got back at him for the bike. Elise scratched at Otto and bit him as hard as she could, and then Ursula-Marie hit out at Elise, and Sofie laid into Huge Hans and tore at his hair until it came away in great tufts in her hands. (23.22)

It's like a great big revenge pile-up. It's the NASCAR of revenge.

Sofie was the first to lunge at him, and had the rest of us remained standing, Pierre Anthon would easily have been able to shake her off. But we didn't. (14.1)

We think Pierre Anthon may have known they wouldn't, and is just following through with his statement that the best thing you can do for the planet is die. His death could be a form of suicide, if you want to read it that way.

The only thing we were certain about was that it was Pierre Anthon's fault. And that we were going to pay him back. (24.6)

At what point did Pierre Anthon become at fault? If he had just sat quietly in the tree without tormenting his classmates, do you think they would have ultimately sought revenge?

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