Big Little Lies
Liane Moriarty
Contributed by Greta Venegas
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Themes
Themes are described as ideas that dominate a particular piece of literature. In almost all cases, pieces of literature will be centered a theme or a number of them.
Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is one of the predominant crimes that occur internationally (Finley 2), and can be found throughout the novel. Celeste’s marriage to Perry is characterized by domestic violence. The author states, “Last time it had been about over Legos…he slapped her across the face with the back of his hand” (Moriarty 136). Perry fought with Celeste over minor matters, such as the twins’ toys. He also becomes infuriated when he feels humiliated. Celeste says, “It started over the computer” (Moriarty 67). Apparently, Perry hated losing — and when he did, he ended up hurting Celeste.

Moriarty also presents the theme of domestic violence during Celeste’s counseling sessions with Susi, her domestic violence counselor. She reveals that Perry would hurt her, and later apologizing with gifts. Susi tells Celeste that, in Australia, a woman succumbs to domestic abuse every week (Moriarty 175). Despite Celeste’s decision to defend Perry’s actions, it is apparent that he frequently hurts her. Nathan also tells Madeline that Bonnie’s anger was triggered by recalling how her father used to abuse her mother while they were watching (Moriarty 355).

Family

Moriarty describes the different families, ranging from Celeste’s flawless family to Madeline’s extended family, as well as Jane’s single-parent family. Jane is worried about the kind of home she is offering her son, Ziggy. The author notes: “The rituals weren’t real like they were in other families where there was a mom and a dad and at least one sibling” (Moriarty 58). Jane felt that she denied Ziggy the life of having a complete family, and with his father around to guide him. Madeline also believes that family is crucial for a child’s development. She is angry with Nathan for denying Abigail a complete family — when she was growing up — by deciding to abandon them and, later, marrying Bonnie. 

The author also develops the value of family by using Celeste and Perry’s marriage. Perry is obsessed with posting photos on his Facebook wall with the focus of showing the world his happy nuclear family. Although he hurts Celeste, he cannot foresee a life without his family. (Moriarty 64). When threatened by Celeste that she will leave, Perry is ready to resign his job and focus on changing to keep his family. In addition, although Madeline knows that it is wrong to lie to the investigator about what had happened at the trivia night, she is ready to break the law to protect Nathan, Bonnie, and Skye because they are family. She says “…but he (Nathan) was still family, he belonged on her piece of cardboard showing her family tree” (Moriarty 356). It is quite clear that family means everything to Madeline. 

Bullying

Alsaker and Christof (1) state that bullying in kindergarten provides new opportunities to comprehend early processes in the pathways to victimization. Therefore, Moriarty develops the theme of bullying by using a kindergarten backdrop. Max is a five-year-old boy who bullies Amabella, and threatens to hurt her — when the adults are not watching — if she does not remain silent. At first, the author makes the readers believe that Ziggy is the bully (Rich, par.3). However, Ziggy later reveals to her mother that Max has been hurting Amabella and has started harassing Skye, too (Moriarty 319). Later, Celeste informs Bonnie and Nathan about Max hurting Skye; to which Bonnie says, “Skye told me about it” (Moriarty 333).

The parents that were worried about their kids not being schooled in a friendly environment also demonstrated the need to address the issue of bullying at Pirriwee’s kindergarten — which was done through the petition to suspend Ziggy from school.

Perry was also a victim of bullying, who was sidelined for being fat and wearing glasses. This had contributed to his anger and emotional disorder. Since then, he strongly dislikes being disrespected or humiliated. 

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