60 pages 2 hours read

Emma Straub

All Adults Here

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2020

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Symbols & Motifs

Elliot’s Building

Elliot buys a building that is crucial to Clapham’s infrastructure. Located in the center of town, it can either contribute to Clapham culture or take away from it. Elliot has the opportunity to rent the building to Beauty Bar, a major corporation. Beauty Bar would bring in business and money, but it could also put Elliot’s mother’s girlfriend’s hair salon out of business. Not only that, but the introduction of a big business would change Clapham forever—for better or for worse.

For Elliot, the decision of what to do with the building symbolizes his internal conflict. Elliot struggles with self-perception and with his feelings about the life he has made for himself. He cares about what other people think of him, and he wants to be seen as a successful businessman. But Elliot also cares about Clapham and doesn’t want to ruin the town. Elliot is unhappy with his marriage and his life, but he resists any deviations from societal norms. These internal conflicts are exacerbated by Elliot’s resentment towards his mother, whom he aims to please even though he feels she doesn’t believe in him. Thus, the building is a symbol of Elliot’s conflict and of the crossroads he is at, both in terms of what he wants from life and within his relationship with his mother.