The Spider in the Heart
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The Spider in the Heart is a young adult (YA) novel, which uses the mode of magical realism to juxtapose an everyday reality with the magical domain of the underworld, and explore the relationship between man and nature, through the journey of the protagonist, Rachel. This occurs in both a physical sense, in her quest to retrieve the oracle cards from the underworld; and meta-physically in the search for her identity, her place in the world(s), and her sense of purpose. The Spider in the Heart is book one of the Children of the Stars trilogy — each using an alternative domain of the underworld, middleworld, and upperworld — in which Rachel ultimately fulfills her destiny according to an ancient prophecy written in the stars. The exegesis A Symbol Speaks a Thousand Words aims to unravel the motivations and themes of The Spider in the Heart. The quest for individual identity, a concern common to the YA reader, is discussed in the context of how the YA reader identifies with characters in a narrative and uses their experiences as a mirror for defining their own identity; and on a deeper level how mythology is a means for the reader to connect with the universal concepts beyond narrative plot. The use of magical realism as a means of transgressing boundaries is investigated in relation to how an individual’s sense of reality is determined by the understanding and relationship they have with nature; also considered is how the mode of magical realism provides a space for transformation to occur. Defining the importance of place as essential to constructing a sense of identity is looked at in the context of the challenges encountered by adolescents today in a global and technology-driven society that is largely disassociated with nature. Finally, the notion of having a conscious relationship with our natural environment is explored in a discourse of the language of nature, and how the universal languages of mythology symbols act as a key to a deeper understanding of self.