As I stated in the spoiler-free review, Crooked Saints is full of symbolism and themes so I’ll discuss spoilers through my interpretation but please be aware that I could be wrong.
Daniel: Daniel’s parents died while accidentally helping a pilgrim. They turn into wood (not quite sure the significance of wood and if you have an idea, please share). Before they are completely engulfed, Daniel is chopped out of his mother’s womb.
Daniel was a hellian until he tried to steal The Holy Child of Atocha painting. He physically couldn’t lift the painting any longer and found the dedication to all the crooked saints on the back. (This is the only time the title in mentioned in the book so here’s the significance of the title). This is a real painting with a historical significance and I think this painting awakened Daniel to fulfill his higher purpose which is to become the saint. My copodcaster and I concluded that Daniel was a hell child because he was angry about the death of his parents and he didn’t want the responsibility of sainthood so if he was a bad person, he wouldn’t have to become the saint.
The thing Daniel wanted was to help someone he was not allowed to but he feared this desire would ruin his family like it ruined his family when his father tried to help a pilgrim. Daniel makes the conscious decision to help Marisita, a pilgrim he loves, (I’ll talk about her later) and he runs away so he won’t bring darkness to his family.
Beatriz: The thing she wants is to devote time to understand why the butterfly is similar to a galaxy. I tried to do some research into butterflies and galaxies and similarities but I couldn’t find any so I concluded that Beatriz wants to spend her time philosophizing and her fear is to be asked to do anything else.
When Beatriz and Daniel were 10 and 12, they discussed animals and if they could be cured with a miracle. (The Soria family had an untamed horse.) Beatriz philosophized that because horses were not human and didn’t have the concept of right and wrong, they could not posses darkness and could not be cured of a miracle. My copodcaster and I concluded that when Daniel was still in the womb, he didn’t pass along the darkness because he had no concept of right and wrong and therefore did not need a cure. We could be reaching here but regardless, it’s a great topic of discussion and the reason for the abortion debate.
Joaquin: His desire was to be famous and he feared dying alone. He wants to be a DJ and some historical fiction is his pirate radio station and the music of the 60’s makes an appearance in the novel. Joaquin and Beatriz want to find Daniel and help him but they know if they do, the darkness will get them but they find a way to help him and all the pilgrims through music. This was a minor theme; music has healing power/it can bring you out of the darkness. Because of his new new DJ job, Joaquin will never die alone because he’ll always have listeners.
Marisita (Pilgrim): Marisita literally has a dress of butterflies and is constantly under a cloud of rain. We learn that Marisita was guilted to take care of her family by marrying a man she didn’t love and concluded that she was depressed. The butterflies could symbolize not being able to take flight or Marisita not being able to be free. Butterflies symbolize the soul/resurrection/growth.
Marisita also loves Daniel and when she admits it, her guilt releases, the rain ceases, and the butterflies fly away thus her second miracle.
The Other Pilgrims: The journey of the other pilgrims are pretty obvious and my favorite was the skirt chasing priest who had the head of a coyote. Coyote’s are both a trickster and a teacher.
The Ending and Themes: The Soria family is afraid to interfere with the pilgrims because they don’t want to invite the darkness and this in itself is an issue-fear. Fear is a major theme and Beatriz finally realizes that her family lives in constant fear and they too need a miracle. Beatriz decides to perform both miracles for her family by helping Daniel.
When she finds Daniel, he is dead in the arm of Marisita (Oh the feels). As Daniel was dying, he was seeing an owl and I’m not quite sure what that means. Anyway, Beatriz sees the same owl with Daniel’s eyes and mouth. When she tries to grab the owl, it backs away until she realizes that she needs to want a miracle for the owl to approach her. When she relents, it approaches her and she grabs Daniel at the same time to give him back his eyes and breath but of course helping him causes the darkness to travel to Beatriz and she is now going blind. In order for Beatriz to perform the second miracle on her own, she has to admit that she does have feelings and she does love Pete before she goes completely blind. Pete finds her, helps her, and also becomes blind but after admitting their feelings, they complete the miracle.
- Darkness is about shame and not because you are terrible
- Face your demons and you can’t conquer demons alone
- Fear holds you back
- We must come together to be better than doing it on our own