Study Guide

The White Darkness Versions of Reality

By Geraldine McCaughrean

Versions of Reality

Sym knows her imaginary friend, Titus, isn't real, but talking to him helps her hide from the hard reality of her loneliness and her father's death. Sometimes, when faced with serious trauma, she retreats even further into her imagination, resorting to pure fantasy. Make believe may sound like a childish form of play, but for Sym it's serious business—a matter of survival, even. When she almost dies in the snow, these versions of reality collide as Titus makes her confront the fact of his death, which happened a century before.

Is this reckoning what saves her? Does Sym's imagination come to the rescue again? Or is it just possible that her savior Titus is, on some level, real? The White Darkness leaves this pretty open, so over to you, Shmooper.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. Sym has an imaginary friend, Titus. Is she using a healthy coping mechanism? Or is it a dangerous retreat into fantasy? Explain your reasoning using evidence from the text.
  2. Do you think there's any possibility that the "real" Titus saves Sym? Or is he a pure figment of her imagination? Why?
  3. Is there a reality in which Victor is a loving uncle instead of a psychotic murderer? Can he be both of these things at once? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Sym has a strong hold on reality and uses her vivid imagination to better understand the world around her.

Sym has a loose hold on reality, and her vivid imagination is a liability that makes her confuse fact and fiction.

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