If you haven’t read Caraval, stop. There are some major spoilers ahead. Instead, read my review. If you have read Caraval, I’m interested in learning your thoughts. Did you pick up on any symbols or themes? How do you feel about of the points I discussed? Leave me a comment and let me know.
Clothing: The beautiful, changing dresses that reflected Scarlet’s mood also was a reflection of her lack of control. She was a plaything in her sister’s plot, in Legend’s fault. Much like Julien, she was an actor in a story, but she didn’t know it and certainly didn’t choose it.
Family and Duty: Scarlet’s unwavering loyalty to her sister is endearing, and it’s something that she takes pride in. But part of growing up is becoming your own person, and Scarlet is struggling with that. Her identity was so rooted in being Tella’s protector and older sister that she didn’t allow her some of life’s simplest pleasures, and when she wanted them (like Julien), she felt guilt.
Tella and Scarlet: This ties back to family and duty, but the nature of their relationship was interesting. At first, Tella seemed superficial, but then we learned that she planned this getaway to rescue them both. Much like Scarlet, she’s protective of her sister. After all, Scarlet had been willing to marry some guy she didn’t know to get them away from her father. But then the entire game at Caraval had been Tella’s set up, and obviously based on the ending, she had to give up something to get that information. But despite this, I think Scarlet is definitely more willing to give anything up for her sister. Tella knew that Scarlet would die for her, and I found that a little off-putting.
Deception: There’s so much deception throughout the novel. Things are never what they seem. Scarlet and Tella’s father isn’t what he seems to the outside world: he’s an abusive prick, but no one else seems to know that. Legend’s whole show is based on magic, illusion, and deception—even his identity is hidden. But that’s true of everyone. We all wear masks, and we never truly know a person. Tella deceived Scarlet, even if it was for the greater good. And of course there’s Julien, who was playing a role the entire time (to an extent, I suppose).