Big Little Lies
Liane Moriarty
Contributed by Greta Venegas
Motifs are devices or structures that are used by artists or authors to help in the development of a theme.

The recurring motif of ocean in the novel shows the inner struggles felt by the female characters, such as Jane, as well as the likelihood for restoration through confession (Wallworth 23). Jane is undergoing the inner struggle of being raped by Perry and having to raise Ziggy all by herself. On the other hand, Celeste is in an abusive relationship where she is compelled to stay for the sake of her children. However, just as the ocean is a sign of power and a source of life, Jane’s confession to Madeline lightens her burden and she starts appreciating herself. In addition, Celeste’s confession to Susi about her abusive husband encourages her to put a stop to Perry’s abusive behavior by deciding to leave. 


The author uses violence as a motif to develop the theme of domestic violence and bullying. Celeste is in a violent marriage that results in her son observing and copying what his father does. As a result, Max also uses violence to bully others, such as Amabella and Skye. In addition, from the domestic abuse experienced by Celeste at the hands of her husband, to the red and black marks on Amabella’s neck, to the revelation Jane conceived Ziggy through rape; the motif of violence suffered by women in this novel is a constant theme indicating the plight of women. The novel itself describes Perry’s murder as being a result from violence. 

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