Only thieves and children run


From him I learned how to wash substances to rid them of impurities and bring out the true colors. (Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier)

I read Girl with a Pearl Earring in one sitting. I wanted to know what happens to Griet, the intelligent and beautiful young woman constrained under the eyes and hands of men. I found it most telling how often the author described Griet's observation of hands, touch, and the looks she felt cast her way. Her father's hands were stained blue from his trade, the butcher and his son had bloodied fingernails, her own hands became "workers hands" at a young age, while she and Vermeer cleansed their hands after mixing colors in his studio.

She learned to see "the true colors" in people, their real desires and intentions. Everyone in her life was tainted, dirtied, and only the master's gaze and hands "pure." I don't think the master had ill intentions, but he obviously used his authority for his own benefit.

I like how the statement "only thieves and children run" came up twice in the novel as well as the image of the spinning knife on a floor. I saw the knife as a dial on a compass, with Griet standing in the center of the eight-pointed star in her town and ultimately making the decision that would better her life under the circumstances. She wasn't a thief but a child who had to grow up quickly. 

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