Study Guide

Turtle in Paradise Paper Dolls

By Jennifer L. Holm

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Paper Dolls

When Turtle first arrives in Key West, her paper Kewpie dolls spill out of her bag when Beans purposely knocks it over. Turtle tells us that her mom gave them to her for her last birthday. So naturally, Turtle plays with them when she's bored or thinking of her mom. Seems pretty simple, right? Papers dolls = symbol of Mama. Not so fast, though… Enter Aunt Minnie.

Aunt Minnie's got a lot to say about the dolls, like how Turtle's mom stole them from her and shouldn't give them to someone else. Looks like this symbol for Mama just stopped being about comfort and started also encompassing her strained relationship with her sister.

Aunt Minnie demands the dolls back from Turtle, even though she clearly has no use for them anymore. And when she does, we think the dolls are also symbolic of the power Aunt Minnie wants to have over her sister. Think about it this way: Turtle's mom gets a job and sends her kid off to live at her sister's house without waiting for an okay from Minnie. So now Minnie's stuck raising three kids plus her sister's kid, working and struggling to survive. Aunt Minnie's too nice to turn Turtle away, but she's not beyond venting a bit by snatching the dolls back.

Aunt Minnie comes around in the end, though, and offers the dolls to Turtle when things go south with Archie, saying:

"They belong to the family," my aunt says in a gruff voice. "So you're going to have to stay here if you want to play with them. Your mother, too." (18.88)

It's clear Minnie is trying to be inclusive here and less authoritative. If we trace the paper dolls throughout the story, then, they also help us understand how Aunt Minnie's attitude toward Turtle changes over the course of the book.

Turtle in Paradise Paper Dolls Study Group

Ask questions, get answers, and discuss with others.

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

This is a premium product

Please Wait...