Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.  


When Clay and Amanda first set foot in the vacation house, its silence symbolizes wealth and luxury to them. The appliances are whisper-quiet and the floor doesn’t creak. Everything is so well-maintained that the house operates noiselessly. In Chapter 15, Rose sees the unusual quiet of the morning not as a symbol of menace, but as a message that she needs to decipher. In Chapter 20, Clay notices the general quiet and tells himself that he can choose to interpret the silence however he likes, as either peaceful or threatening. In Chapter 21, the silence that symbolizes relaxation to Archie and Rose in the woods is a symbol of danger and disruption in the city. By the end of the novel, the unnatural silence of the outside world, in which birds are no longer calling and planes are no longer flying, symbolizes the end of the world as they know it. 

Flamingo Pink 

Flamingos and their pink plumage usually symbolize the unexpected beauty of nature, and Amanda comments that Rose would have loved to see them. They are often associated with recreational destinations such as zoos and exotic locations, but when they appear on Long Island, completely out of place and far away from their natural habitat, they symbolize that something has gone terribly wrong with the natural order. The pink color of these birds is often associated with femininity and seen as cheerful and unthreatening. Before the flamingos land in the pool, Amanda, Ruth, and G. H. enjoy pink wine to distract themselves from the blackout, while Rose and Archie, “pinked from the sun” explore the woods. But the sense of normalcy lasts only so long. The next day, pink comes to symbolize blood and illness when Archie and Amanda’s vomit has a pink tinge. Flamingo pink represents the menacing and inexplicable events that directly affect the characters, who cannot comprehend them. 

The Cracks in the Glass 

When the characters first hear the terrifying noise in the air above them, a glass pane in a door behind them cracks, but none of them notices. This hairline crack symbolizes the dividing of the world into how it exists before the noise and after the noise. The effects may not be noticeable at first, but something has been broken that can never be mended. Rose is the first to spot the crack in the glass, and for her, it symbolizes not menace and threat, but a change she has already processed and understood, in her mysterious teenage way. In Chapter 29, when Amanda notices the crack, she recognizes that something has been irreparably broken in their reality, and she shivers. In Chapter 39, Danny reports that his shower door also cracked. Being a practical man not given to imagination, he interprets the cracked glass as a sign that whatever is happening is too dangerous to face.