50 pages 1 hour read

Tana French

The Witch Elm

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2018

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Symbols & Motifs

Ivy House

Ivy House represents the lasting impact of trauma. In The Witch Elm’s exposition, Toby thinks fondly of Ivy House as a symbol of childhood innocence. By the novel’s conclusion, he feels so far removed from this innocence that he struggles to believe the house was ever real: “all my memories with a golden haze that has something frighteningly numinous about it; could that place really have existed, in this drab grinding vapid world” (508). Similar to how Toby can never erase the physical and mental effects of being assaulted, Ivy House never looks the same after Dominic’s skeleton is discovered, the garden is excavated, and the house is investigated by police. As the investigation continues, Toby uncovers the self-absorbed, unempathetic parts of himself.

Before the investigation, Ivy House represents the unity of the Hennessy family. The Hennessy family gathered at the house for their weekly Sunday lunch, enjoying each other’s company and conversation. Despite their differences, Toby, Susanna, and Leon unite in the garden at Ivy House, bonding over shared memories and cigarettes. After Hugo confesses to Dominic’s murder and dies, the family discontinues their tradition of Sunday lunch. They are slow to contact each other and miscommunicate funeral arrangements for Hugo, and

blurred text

blurred text