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Before the Fall
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Before the Fall > Question #5 The Paintings

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Noah Hawley has dedicated 5 pages throughout the book to what he titles PAINTING #1 - #5.
What do you think Hawley was trying to say by using these paintings?
Do you think the author implied that Scott painted these?
Do you think they foreshadow what is to come next in the book?
What are your thoughts on the final Painting #5?

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
I definitely think these were Scott's paintings. My understanding of them improved by going back and reading their descriptions after I was finished the book. I was never quite sure what would have inspired Scott to paint large-scale transportation accidents, but the fact that he did gave investigators reason to question him about possible involvement with the plane crash. It's been awhile since I read the book, but I thought he painted such chaos and tragedy because he wasn't happy with his life. His canvases reflected his inner turmoil. Art also helps him heal, as occurred when he painted the walls in Layla Mueller's apartment.

Shirley Mytnowych | 57 comments Mod
Susan, I also went back and reread the "Paintings" after I finished the book. I found them fascinating.
I definitely agree that Scott painted these pictures. At one point Scott is questioned about the girl found in his paintings. There is not a lot discussed about Scott's sister, but at one point it says she drowned.
On Page 233 - "What is more likely.....or that I drowned in the churning salt, like my sister all those years back, her panicked eyes and mouth drawn under the greedy black water of Lake Michigan?"
I think Scott was with his sister when she drowned and he never recovered from the trauma of it all. Why her, and why he couldn't save her. He was obsessed with tragedy and likely because she drowned, he became the great swimmer that he was. If only he had been like Jack Lalanne, he could have saved her.
I think she is the girl symbolic in the paintings.

In Painting #1 - The young girl is featured as being lost amid a train wreck. Is she looking for a way out? Is she a mother, a daughter, a sister?
Painting #2 - The girl is found in the path of a tornado and a man's arm shuts the door to safety. I noticed that Hawley uses the plural form at the end of his description: "He is closing the storm door, shutting us out. We are on our own."
To me this refers to the girl in the painting and the person viewing the painting. Perhaps symbolic of the pain suffered by not only the person suffering tragedy but those who knew her. (again the pain he suffered when he lost his sister)
He often questions why one individual is dead by tragedy while another is not. He probably struggled with this thought when his sister died - why not him?
Painting #3 - "The crosses are bodies" to me implies his sadness of so many bodies lost to tragedies.

Painting #4 - I found the most intriguing of all - at first appears all white. Upon closer inspection, under the white are colours and textures. Life itself, or a single person's life cannot be seen at any given moment. But under the blank slate is a story of many different tragedies and colours that no one can know or see with the naked eye unless you look very closely, Even then, not all can truly be seen.
Painting #5 - Those 6 words indicate to me that Scott feels nothing really matters. Time goes on, people say these words and the world keeps on turning. No on can really know the impact that a tragedy has on the person unless it happens to you.

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Shirley, what a great analysis! I definitely have to go back and read all of these references. Scott's turmoil makes so much more sense to me now.

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