Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.


Jack has had a special affection for cats since he and Eddie adopted Sugarpuss as boys in Philadelphia. Marcus notices the similarities between Jack and his cat, Pistol, when he first visits Jack at his farm. Jack and Pistol move with the same quickness, and Pistol hunts his prey with the same control with which Jack hunts his human prey. And like cats, which are said to have nine lives, Jack has an uncanny ability to elude death.

Jack's Rosary

The rosary Jack carries from time to time signifies his guilt over losing touch with his family and his religion. Jack sings a song called "My Mother's Rosary," which likely suggests the guilt he feels upon thinking of his mother and her faith. Jack has tried to make up for his wicked lifestyle by donating gobs of money to his local church. He probably feels guilt beyond the guilt caused by living a sinful life, for he has also abandoned his faith and joined the Masons, a Protestant group. Jack claims to have joined the Masons for business purposes, but he is genuinely interested in the organization.


Jack develops a special fondness for canaries, mostly due to his odd experience on a canary-carrying freight boat. Jack can relate to canaries in many ways. A reporter once calls Jack a bird in a gilded cage. Jack is like a caged bird because he is tied to a lifestyle that places certain restrictions on the way he must conduct himself. Alice and Kiki are also connected to canaries, because Jack names his two canaries after his two women. Kiki has a lot in common with a caged bird, for she is constantly kept in a hotel under the supervision of one of Jack's men. At one point, Kiki tells Jack that he treats women like animals. He does force Alice and Kiki to live with him almost as if they are pets he is collecting.