Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text's major themes.

Marks and Scars 

Indelible marks and scars appear throughout Verity, usually pointing to hidden truths that will later be discovered. Lowen has a scar on her hand, which she only discloses is the result of a sleepwalking accident when she and Jeremy are already intimately connected. When Chastin is born, she has a fibroid scar on her cheek. The doctors tell the Crawford parents that scars like this are very common for twins, but Verity suspects that it’s a leftover from her attempted coat–hanger abortion. In turn, she feels the twins have “scarred” her marriage with Jeremy, and refuses to let them nurse in case it permanently changes the shape or size of her breasts. She sees her sexual value as being fundamentally tied to her body remaining unchanged.  

Verity’s sexuality does leave some deliberate marks itself, however. The headboard of the bed that she used to share with Jeremy has several bite marks on it, reminders of when she used to bite down on it during sex. When Jeremy and Lowen sleep together for the first time Lowen sees these and recognizes them from Verity’s autobiography. She wants to “mark” Jeremy’s bed herself, so she bites down on the headboard as hard as she can. All of the physical scars in the novel remind readers and characters alike of the long–lasting effects of traumatic events. Even if things look good on the surface, it doesn’t mean they aren’t scarred underneath. 

Writing and Autobiography 

The act of writing and Verity’s autobiography are central to the narrative, serving as both a window into characters' minds and a source of confusion and misinterpretation. Verity Crawford is an author: she also writes an autobiography which may or may not be truthful, called So Be It. When she gets into a disabling accident, her husband hires another writer to continue her work.  

Lowen, the novel’s protagonist, comes to the Crawford house to continue writing Verity’s book series on her behalf. Lowen hates attention but wants literary success, and so getting to write “as” someone else under a pen name seems like the best of both worlds. While she’s at the Crawford house her main job is to try and piece together the fictional narratives Verity has been planning in her book series. However, she soon she gets caught up in a world of writing where the edges of what is and isn’t fictional become murky. As Lowen continues to write Verity’s professional fiction, she gains horrifying insight into her personal truths. The idea of writing in Verity is also linked to the motif of marking or scarring. Writing is an act which has repercussions in this novel. Things which are written down take on power whether or not they are true, and they exist as evidence that’s difficult to erase. 


The motif of sleepwalking is linked to Lowen’s fear of losing control, and of the novel’s sense of the uncanny. At the beginning of the book, Lowen reports that she sleepwalks regularly and has done so since her childhood. She’s unable to control her actions while in this state, and has found herself in some strange and treacherous situations. Early in the novel this makes it seem as though it could be Lowen’s imagination that is making the Crawford house seem sinister, and causing her to feel she’s being watched. However, it turns out to be another kind of “sleepwalking” that is actually causing the disruptions and unexplained events. Verity Crawford is supposed to be comatose but is actually conscious. Lowen seems conscious when she sleepwalks, but is actually totally absent. When Lowen sleepwalks she is unconscious and out of control, and it causes her a great deal of distress. Verity is not supposed to be able to walk at all: indeed, she’s meant to be “asleep” constantly. However, when Verity Crawford walks around the house and interferes with things, she’s very much in control of her faculties.