Study Guide

Shiver Suffering

By Maggie Stiefvater


Grace, the only person in the world I wanted to know me [...] walked out of the store without ever realizing I was there, right within reach. (4.29)

Sam suffers angsty torment when Grace doesn't speak with him. However, he only brings it upon himself, because he could just as easily have spoken to her.

“Maybe [Isabel]'s not in mourning anymore,” I said. [...] Olivia opened the door for me. “Maybe she's the only one who ever was.” (8.47)

People show their grief in different ways. Grace thinks that Isabel isn't mourning because she's not being all theatrical and wearing black to school, but Isabel is taking a much more realistic approach to grief: trying to get Jack back. It's the bargaining stage of grief made real with a supernatural twist.

 “I know you're really close to the situation, but he does need help.” (14.13)

A nurse zeroes in on Sam's wrist scars as a sign of suffering. Although the nurse mistakes the scars as a sign of suicidal tendencies, the scars still represent suffering: the suffering caused by being wolf and the suffering brought to Sam by his parents.

“What about me? Look at me. My life is over.” (20.5)

This quote is from some random wolf whose name we don't remember and never hear again. Her suffering is selfish and borderline comical like this horrible 80s song. At least it would be funny if she didn't go off and kill people. That puts a damper on the humor.

I smelled them: the metallic stink of blood, the sweaty odor of fear, the earthy scent that matched the dirt. (31.34)

One thing about these supernatural werewolf senses: they can smell suffering. On top of this, the whole process of the first transformation is one big ol' suffering show.

“Someone attacked Paul. He's a mess, ripped to shreds.” (45.23)

It's possible that Shelby attacked Paul. He was attacked by another wolf, and we know, by this point, that her M.O. is to cause suffering. We're just not sure if it was her, and if so, why.

I sighed and listened to [Jack] groan, wail, scream. (47.60)

Sam's reaction to Jack's painful transformation: a sigh. He's been through this level of suffering himself, seen it multiple times in others, and just plain doesn't like Jack. So he doesn't really seem to care about the torture Jack's going through.

[Sam] bowed his head and I watched his shoulders ripple and shake, watched the silent agony of the change until that one soft, awful cry, just when he lost himself. (52.42)

It's more poignant when Sam changes than when Jack does, partly because we're seeing it through Grace's eyes, and she actually cares about Sam. His suffering in this case is less because of the physical pain of changing, and more from the emotional pain of losing Grace, and his humanity, forever.

The howls were the hardest thing to bear. (56.1)

The howls show suffering on both sides. The wolves are suffering, and Grace is suffering having to listen to them. They're just a reminder of what she will never be.

Even though I knew I was alone, I still shivered. (64.8)

Title shout-out! The shiver is a sign of emotional suffering in this case, not just the temperature change. Grace's feelings of sadness and loneliness overflow and prompt a physical reflex. Or maybe she is just cold. Who knows.