Forgiveness in ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven’ Character Analysis

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During Eddie’s journey and experiences in life and in heaven, he learns how he has impacted the five lives while on earth. Eddie finds that his life did have true meaning and purpose. Before he meets the five people in heaven he feels that his life is worthless and has no meaning. He is physically not in good shape “His left knee, wounded in the war, was ruined by arthritis. He used a cane to get around”(2, paragraph 1). He feels stuck at a place with a job that he hates, “He cursed his father for dying and for trapping him in the very life he’d been trying to escape.”

It takes Eddie his whole life and time in heaven to begin to find the meaning and purpose of his life. The last one of the five people Eddie meets in heaven is a little girl named Tala. She is a little girl that Eddie burned alive in a fire. He sets a fire to burn the place he had been held captive, and also because a soldier had died in it while at war in the Philippines. As the fire started he thinks he sees a shadow and tries to get it out of the burning barn. His captain and soldiers shoot him in the leg and pull him away because they thought he was hallucinating and going to kill himself for something he “thinks” he sees. After talking with his captain, Eddie believes he did have a hallucination and there was no child. The girl in the hut was Tala, and she is the fifth person Eddie meets in heaven. Even in heaven Tala’s skin was still burned very badly. Eddie is devastated about her death. “FORGIVE ME, OH, GOD…What have I done…WHAT HAVE I DONE?…”

Tala teaches Eddie that he had a big role in keeping people safe at ruby pier and should know that his life was useful in any ways. He washes her in a pond with a magical rock that wipes away her burns from the fire and her skin becomes freshly clean. Eddie drifts away to his own personal heaven: Ruby pier, filled with all the people born and unborn who were saved thanks to Eddie when it came to maintaining rides. He reunites with Marguerite on top of a ferris wheel, where he waits for a girl that he saved before he died.

Redemption and forgiveness:

Throughout his life and during his journey in heaven Eddie believes his life has no worth, but in the end he comes to understand the great value of his life to God and human beings. Not only were his sins redeemed, but his whole understanding of the life he lived is redeemed.

Throughout the book Eddie experiences about how life and death offer opportunities for redemption with the five people he meets in heaven. For example, Eddie learns that he is the cause of the Blue Man’s death, yet the Blue Man makes it clear that he is not there to punish Eddie, but to teach him. Eddie realizes he killed an innocent girl, yet she helps pull Eddie into heaven, gives him the chance to wash away her burns, and shows him he is forgiven. But receiving forgiveness is not the only thing that occurs in heaven. Eddie also gets to forgive the captain for shooting him in the leg and to forgive his father for years of abuse. As Eddie both receives and gives forgiveness, redemption comes full circle.

Redemption can also come indirectly though. When Eddie meets Tala in heaven she explains to him that by spending his life protecting the children on the rides at Ruby Pier, Eddie earned Tala’s forgiveness. Tala shows her forgiveness by choosing to be the person who brings Eddie to heaven, but Eddie’s father never apologized to Eddie for his abusive, neglect towards him, but from Ruby’s perspective, Eddie’s father desired redemption in the end by saving Mickey, and calling out for Eddie on his deathbed. But like in slaughterhouse five Albom concludes that sins and suffering are an unavoidable part of life, so having the ability to redeem and forgive others and yourself is both needed and essential

The value in ordinary life

I think Mitch Albom represents his version of what heaven could be like. In his heaven people who felt unimportant on earth would realize how much they mattered and how much they were loved. “This is the greatest gift God can give to you: to understand what happened in your life. To have it explained. It is the peace you have been searching for.” This is what I had been searching for as well, a piece of heaven— moment to learn five lessons about life, love, relationships, sacrifice, and forgiveness. These five lessons taught me how to live.”

Albom begins his first lesson by explaining the nature of life:
“It is because the human spirit knows, deep down, that all lives intersect. That death doesn’t just take someone, it misses someone else, and in the small distance between taken and being missed, lives are changed.” I’ve learned from this book and experiences that all lives connect in some way and that our choices affect others whether we know it or not. “Strangers are just family you have yet to come to know.”

Eddie learned sacrifice from the captain. The Blue Man accidently sacrifices his life for Eddie when he swerves his car to avoid hitting Eddie, he tells Eddie that dying by sparing another’s life is a worthy way to die. The Captain tells Eddie that Eddie’s lost leg was a necessary sacrifice for saving his country, so rather than being frustrated about losing his leg, he should be glad because “sacrifice is worthy and important”. Albom understands that you can’t agree with everything in life, and not everything’s going to go planned, but in some way they do bring great value in things we take for granted.

The cycle of life & death

Mitch Albom writes about everything you’ve ever thought about life, after death, the meaning of our lives on earth, and how everything you do and every interaction you have has an impact on someone else.
The five people you meet in heaven is highlighting that death is a mirror of life. When Eddie arrives in heaven, he goes through the same physical and emotional changes he went throughout his life. When Eddie gets to heaven he feels active, like a child. When he goes through the stages and meets the five people he physically his body changing, like if he were aging again. He looks at the sky changing colors as he falls through each part of heaven, and he feels a “whirl of emotions—sadness, love, peace, fear, joy” as he watches the colors change, by end of the novel he realizes these colors are all the emotions of his life.

Life-and-death is a crucial part of life that is shown throughout the novel. The pain of loss gives meaning to the things and people lost, sadly it seems without death there is no shape to life. Eddie mourns the loss of his leg, of his joy, and later of Marguerite. His losses give meaning to the things he has felt and had. By losing Marguerite Eddie fully feels how much love he had for her, just as death isn’t really the end, neither is loss permanent, in heaven Eddie regains strength, joy, and Marguerite.


Cite this paper

Forgiveness in ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven’ Character Analysis. (2020, Sep 10). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/forgiveness-in-the-five-people-you-meet-in-heaven/

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