The Knife of Never Letting Go
Patrick Ness
Contributed by Carey Speaks
Motifs are devices or structures that are used by artists or authors to help in the development of a theme.

Ness use this motif to develop the theme of isolation in the novel by referring to the perception people in different settlements have about the men from Prentisstown. When Todd entered Farbranch, people picked “Prentisstown” from his Noise and started judging him based on where he was from despite being a boy. Matthew uses his judgment of Prentisstown men as a drive for tracking Todd down to kill him (Ness 157). Francia is also cautious about letting Todd stay in Farbranch based on where he was from (Ness 143).


The characters keep making reference to the war and the effects it had on Spackles and the settlers. This motif is used to develop themes such as death, choices, and isolation. Ben compares war to a monster because of the hatred it instils on men and the results of war. He also compares war to the devil referring to its representation of evil (Ness 307). Todd escape from Prentisstown stirs conflict as men from his town track him down while killing settlers in Farbranch because they had welcomed him and any person who stands in their way (Ness 173).

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