Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Sophie Neveu’s red hair, mentioned at the beginning of the text, foreshadows her divine blood. When Langdon first sees Sophie, he calls her hair “burgundy” and thinks that her attractiveness lies in her confidence and health. He compares her favorably to the blonde girls at Harvard over whom his students lust. Later, at Teabing’s chateau, Teabing shows Sophie that Mary Magdalene is depicted with red hair in The Last Supper. Langdon also thinks the mermaid Ariel’s red hair in The Little Mermaid is evidence that Disney intended his movie to be an allegory of the story of Magdalene. By the end of the novel, when Sophie’s brother gives a tour of the Rosslyn Chapel and his hair is described as “strawberry blonde,” we understand that Sophie and her brother are of Mary Magdalene’s bloodline.
Blood stands for truth and enlightenment in The Da Vinci Code. Saunière draws a pentacle—for him, a symbol of the Church’s intention to cover up the true history of the world—on his stomach in his own blood. Sophie realizes that her grandfather has left a message for her on the Mona Lisa because a drop of his blood remains on the floor. Teabing spies a trickle of blood on Silas’s leg, which he takes to mean that Silas has a cilice, a barbed punishment belt, on his thigh, and disables him by hitting him there. Silas himself had thought of blood as truth in a different way—for Silas, blood means cleansing of impurities. And at the very end of the novel, the discovery of the blood of Mary Magdalene running through Sophie and her brother’s veins proves that the story of the Grail is true.
In a novel that spends a great deal of time interpreting ancient symbols like the pentacle, the chalice, and the rose, the cell phone might seem like an incongruous modern interloper. But the cell phone symbolizes the fact that in the modern world, secrets are both harder and easier to keep. Teabing conceals his identity as the Teacher by using cell phones to communicate with his unknowing allies. In one instance, he even speaks to Silas from the back of the limousine while Silas is in the front, concealing his identity while only feet away. At the same time, however, the characters are often worried about their cell phone use being traced. Fache, for example, at one point figures out that Sophie has tipped Langdon off by looking up her phone number, which is stored in his cell phone, and finding that it matches the number Sophie gave Langdon as the American Embassy’s number.