The Five People You Meet in Heaven: The Blue Man

Share your reactions and thoughts about the Blue Man’s story, his relationship with his father, and his taking silver nitrate. What, if anything, does this have to do with Eddie?

What effect does the Blue Man’s death have on you when you look at the same story from two different points of view—his and Eddie’s?

How aware are we of how other people experience the same events we are experiencing?

For those of you concerned about source attribution, I’m basing some of my discussion questions on those provided by LitLovers, who got their questions from the publisher of TFPYMIH. I sometimes change how they phrase the questions and leave some out, but I’m using them to guide the general direction of the discussion.
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11 thoughts on “The Five People You Meet in Heaven: The Blue Man

  1. I felt sorry for the Blue Man that he chose to capitalize on his “freak” attributes and that he couldn’t find what most of us would consider a “normal” job due to his blue skin. It was kind of neat, though, to think about the job at the freak show from the point of view of the workers instead of the customers. I don’t know that I ever thought about whether the people wanted to work at shows like that or if they took the job because they couldn’t find employment elsewhere.

    I think seeing the Blue Man’s death through his own eyes and Eddie’s gave me a more complete picture of the circumstances and reactions to the Blue Man’s death. Normally in books we only see death from the perspective of those around the victim rather than also seeing through the eyes of the dying.

    I think, more often than not, we are barely aware of the way other people experience the same events we are experiencing. If a family comes into the jewelry store where I work and the 3-year old starts playing with the hair accessories on the table, messing up my carefully crafted display, I am likely going to think, “Seriously, can’t you keep control of your kids?” The mom might be happy that the kid found something to enjoy, because maybe she’s exhausted chasing after her child all day long. Any older brothers or sisters may be embarrassed at their younger sibling. A dad might be frustrated by the whole thing and just tired of being in a store full of sparkly things.

    As much as I am able, I try to keep in mind that everyone brings a back story with them and that I don’t know what kind of day they’ve had or what they’re going through. The grumpy customer or disgruntled cashier may be having a really rough day. And being aware of their experiences or their view allows me to show more grace than I would otherwise.

  2. Share your reactions and thoughts about the Blue Man’s story, his relationship with his father, and his taking silver nitrate. What, if anything, does this have to do with Eddie?

    The relationship with the Blue Man and his father deteriorated over the Blue Man’s (boy) wetting himself and taking the Silver Nitrate. Turning Blue, led to his getting work as a “freak” and led him to be at Ruby Pier. For me, the sadest part of the Blue Man’s story is not hearing of any reconcilliation with his father. Yet, it seems the Blue Man did not harbor bitterness. BTW Silver Nitrate was not an unusual treatment in those days, should have been stopped or reduced when the Blue came. I was used in the 60s and poured it over 3rd degree burn patients, gallons of it. Now it has been made into a creme.

    What effect does the Blue Man’s death have on you when you look at the same story from two different points of view—his and Eddie’s?

    I was saddened . I also pondered the irony of the life spared and the life saved. The Blue Man had such a tender heart that he maneuvered not hitting the boy with the ball and then has what appears to be a heart attack initiated by too much adrenaline. I thought it sad that he died alone, but this might be projection on my part.

    How aware are we of how other people experience the same events we are experiencing?
    Sometimes I am aware of this and often not. Sometimes, I ponder on such things. I think it is always true that this is so. In our story, Ruby Pier, the place Eddie wanted to be away from, is heaven for the Blue Man. “This became my home.”

    In spite of earning his living as a “freak”, the Blue Man was comforted by the freedom of small pleasures of sharing card games with others and walking the beach. I think he had some level of happiness because he saw his gains in a positive way. Looking at his death in a different way, the Blue man was driving a Model A, “which he had borrowed from a friend to practice his driving”. The Blue Man had friendship, freedom and adventure when he died. He also had a tender heart.

    • Thanks for the insight about silver nitrate!

      I like your evaluation of the Blue Man. Even though he had a hard life and suffered rejection, he was able to be content and find happiness in little things.

  3. I felt sorry for the Blue Man. His father treated him with disdain and disgust like Eddie’s father treated Eddie. Because of his father’s treatment, the Blue Man became a “freak” and was trapped at the carnival, much like Eddie was trapped at the carnival by his father’s wishes.

    I liked the Blue Man’s lesson that “there are no random acts” (48). There is purpose and meaning behind everything. How we act affects other people. We don’t live our lives in a vacuum, and sometimes our actions have unintended consequences.

    However, I wouldn’t take this lesson so far as to say “we’re all connected. . . you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind” (48). I’m a bit cautious about mystical, transcendental statements such as “there is a balance to it all. One withers, another grows. Birth and death are part of a whole” (49).

    Generally, I think we’re not aware of how others are experiencing things. Maybe it’s self-centeredness or maybe it’s just a human limitation, but it’s hard to imagine how others are responding to things. It’s easy to assume everyone else feels the same way I do about things.

  4. I definitely think the Blue Man’s issues with his father may be a foreshadowing of Eddie’s issues with his dad, although I’m not sure.

    I was shocked when the Blue Man said Eddie caused his death. So far we know that Eddie is brave and protective and he even DIED trying to save the bystanders and the little girl so to think he might have been guilty of causing someone’s death is jarring. Then we realize that it was a single, small, unnoticed event in his life that he never even remembered as an innocent child, but one that changed – actually ENDED – the Blue Man’s life. I do think it is sad that the Blue Man died alone, but his lesson is that none of us is truly alone so the sadness of that lonely death is mitigated because he KNOWS he is not alone (and his funeral which so many attended – even young, reluctant Eddie – reinforces the idea that he was cared for and valued by others).

    It is ironic that Eddie caused the Blue Man’s death. And it is ironic that the Blue Man’s heaven is the Pier where Eddie always wanted to escape. I like how the Blue Man’s skin changed after he was done talking to Eddie.

    Describing the same event from two different perspectives was very powerful thematically too, as you see how lives can become entwined and how insignificant choices of our own can completely change others’ lives. It is neat though that the Blue Man has no animosity or rancor toward Eddie. He’s found acceptance and peace.

    Also the Blue Man’s life fits his lesson: the lesson is reinforced in both words and in what happened – our lives impact others even when we don’t know it.

    • I’m glad you brought out the irony in the Blue Man’s story. I was trying to express that, but couldn’t quite come up with the words to explain it.

  5. Many years ago, there was a popular Christian song called “Thank You” by Ray Boltz. I like the idea of the song – that in heaven, we will find out how our lives touched others in ways we never imagined:

    I dreamed I went to heaven
    And you were there with me;
    We walked upon the streets of gold
    Beside the crystal sea.
    We heard the angels singing
    Then someone called your name.
    We turned and saw a young man running
    And he was smiling as he came.

    And he said, “Friend you may not know me now.”
    And then he said, “But wait,
    You used to teach my Sunday School
    When I was only eight.
    And every week you would say a prayer
    Before the class would start.
    And one day when you said that prayer,
    I asked Jesus in my heart.”

    Thank you for giving to the Lord.
    I am a life that was changed.
    Thank you for giving to the Lord.
    I am so glad you gave.

    Then another man stood before you
    And said, “Remember the time
    A missionary came to your church
    And his pictures made you cry.
    You didn’t have much money,
    But you gave it anyway.
    Jesus took the gift you gave
    And that’s why I’m here today.”

    Thank you for giving to the Lord.
    I am a life that was changed.
    Thank you for giving to the Lord.
    I am so glad you gave.

    One by one they came
    Far as the eye could see.
    Each life somehow touched
    By your generosity.
    Little things that you had done,
    Sacrifices made,
    Unnoticed on the earth
    In heaven, now proclaimed.

    And I know up in heaven
    You’re not supposed to cry
    But I am almost sure
    There were tears in your eyes.
    As Jesus took your hand
    And you stood before the Lord.
    He said, “My child, look around you.
    Great is your reward.”

    Thank you for giving to the Lord.
    I am a life that was changed.
    Thank you for giving to the Lord.
    I am so glad you gave.

    • I remember this song. I had a friend at my Fundy church who wanted to sing this for the special music, and she attempted to convince the PTB (powers that be) that I should be allowed to sign the song as she sang. It didn’t work.

  6. Natalie, I like how you seperate your resonse to another reader’s response, and then go on to write your own response to the book.

    • Jane, I like how you actually read other people’s responses and comment on them. Sometimes I just post my response and don’t revisit the site, which kind of makes the “discussion” pointless.

  7. Jenni and all, you must go back and revisit as there are two area I have not commented on as yet. I am finding there is a lot of pain here, both in our chosen book and in our stories. Also , strength and wisdom is to be found.

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