Study Guide

Nothing Chapter 5

By Janne Teller

Chapter 5

  • At lunch the next day, the kids all pitch in to buy a padlock for the abandoned sawmill in the field behind Sofie's parents' house. Jon-Johan goes to the hardware store to buy it, and they decide that Pierre Anthon's birthday will be the combination that opens it.
  • They begin building the heap of meaning with personal items. Jon-Johan brings a Beatles tape that stopped working but that he was unable to throw out. Elise adds an old favorite doll, Holy Karl a hymnbook, and Ursula-Marie an ivory comb. You know, trinkets and stuff.
  • After that, they go around the neighborhood asking neighbors for meaningful items. They collect photographs, trinkets, toys, and a rose from a bridal bouquet, but Laura says the rose actually doesn't have much meaning, since the marriage ended in divorce.
  • This causes the kids with divorced parents to realize yet again that Pierre Anthon is right, which leads Jon-Johan to raise the stakes, demanding that each person give up their single most precious possession. Yeah, this is headed in the vicious cycle direction. 
  • Dennis starts by giving up his Dungeons & Dragons books, but he holds back the four he likes the most. 
  • Uh oh. Not cool dude. Otto calls him on it, and though Dennis freaks out, he gives up the books.
  • Agnes says that this is when the heap of meaning starts to really become meaningful. Because apparently meaning is rooted entirely in sacrifice. Or something.
  • Dennis tells Sebastian to give up his fishing rod, Sebastian makes Richard give up his black soccer ball, and Richard makes Laura give up her African parrot earrings.
  • When Agnes realizes this is going nowhere good, she tries to stop it. 
  • But Gerda's response is to demand that Agnes give up her new green wedge sandals. She tries to weasel her way out of their agreement but of course it's way too late for that.
  • Agnes has to limp home in a pair of Sofie's old sneakers that are too small, and she decides Gerda's going to pay.

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