The Intuitionist: A Novel Symbols & Objects

Colson Whitehead
This Study Guide consists of approximately 57 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Intuitionist.
This section contains 1,201 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
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Elevators

The elevator is the central symbol in the novel and the crux of the novel’s thematic content. First and foremost, elevators represent the system of social ascension and mobility in the city. Elevators are not only physical mechanisms to transport citizens upwards: they represent the process of moving higher up the social hierarchy. The city’s obsession with “verticality” is more than a desire to build taller and larger buildings or develop new and more advanced technologies. It is a desire to ascend socially and be perceived as superior. This ascension is more than the perception of others, however; it encompasses economic opportunities and even basic respect.

Accordingly, elevators also represent the structural opportunities and limitations that the city presents. Despite the advanced technologies presented in the novel, elevators are structurally limited and suffer from frequent mechanical problems. This symbolizes the deep structural issues of...

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This section contains 1,201 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Intuitionist: A Novel Study Guide
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