Another Symbolism Theory
I have a bunch of just random theories that I’ve come up with that may or may not be feasible. Just different ideas of what represented what y’know?
The Shrunken Head/Key Theory
Early on in the book, when Dr. Warthrop opens his father’s trunk for the first time in forever, one of the first objects pulled out is a shrunken head. While Dr. Warthrop isn’t there, Will Henry examines the head only to find a key. He plans on telling Dr. Warthrop before deciding not to because of the fact that Dr. Warthrop appeared to be very angry. He quickly pockets it, vowing to tell him later.
“I flung the head into the box. It ricocheted against one side before dropping down, rolling onto its side, and coming to rest atop the other items in the trunk. The force of the impact must have dislodged the object tucked inside the hollow of its tiny skull, for I glimpsed protruding from the neck a piece of bright red material. I pulled the head out again, grasped the end of the cloth, and tugged at it until the object to which the other end was tied pulled free of its cadaverous cocoon. It was a key – to what I did not know, but it was too large to belong to the trunk or a door.
‘Will Henry!’ shouted the doctor from the basement steps.
I dropped the head back into the box and jammed the key into my pocket. I would show it to him later, I decided……
I thought about mentioning the key, and quickly decided to wait until his mood had improved.”
Will Henry completely forgets to give the key to Dr. Warthrop. It ends up unlocking the feeding chamber of the Anthropophagi.
Now, on the surface it’s just Will Henry being forgetful. But looking deeper (and possibly over-analyzing it), perhaps the fact that Will Henry is in possession of the key represents that Will Henry was the key to unlocking the lock that’s on Dr. Warthrop’s ability to let go of his past. Maybe the passing of the key symbolizes the moment where Dr. Warthrop comes to realize that he needs to appreciate his assistant more and that he isn’t alone in the world. Will Henry was what essentially caused the doctor to be able to make peace with his past. They were the reasons that both eventually got past their pain and grief.
My theory is spawned from the last chapter of the journal as well as the doctor’s reaction when Will Henry gives him the key. His reaction is one of surprise and wonder. The doctor is incredibly dense and unappreciative due to his childhood. Maybe this key passing represents this moment of realization. It’s certainly represented in the last chapter. Their relationship has evolved to a much closer one (because now they actually know stuff about each other).