Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.

Verity’s Autobiography 

 The secret autobiography that Verity has written and attempted to hide symbolizes the fragility of truth in this novel. There are two copies of it: a digital one, which the Crawfords believe is deleted, and a physical one that Lowen finds in Verity’s papers. After writing this book, which casts her as a callous and disengaged parent, Verity both hides it and writes a letter to Jeremy explaining it away as fiction. The manuscript is entitled So Be It. The phrase “so be it” is usually an idiomatic statement that means something akin to “if it has to be like this, then it is.” In this novel, the title refers both to the idea that Verity is using the writing to process her grief, and to the idea that something might be the way it is purely because Verity says it is. In Verity, a novel about writers, words on paper have power whether or not they’re true. 

The Crawford House 

The Crawford house has many levels of symbolism within it, but it primarily represents the difference between the truth of relationships and the facade that people present to the outside world. Like the Crawfords themselves, the house is imposing and a little intimidating. Although it’s not a beautiful building in itself, it's surrounded by gorgeous countryside and exudes well-off comfort. Everything in its “grey” mass is well-maintained and expensive. However, the people living within it are miserable, and the house has an air of the uncanny and of grief that nobody seems able to shake. The house is described as having many different passages and corridors which connect confusingly. and doors which swing open and closed unpredictably. Of course, the reader later learns that it's Verity who is making some of these movements, but it's implied that the house itself amplifies an unpleasant aura that the people inside it produce. It’s also where most of the story’s tension and mystery unfold. 

Twins and Doubling 

The idea of twins and doubling is important in Verity, and echoes through almost every chapter. Harper and Chastin Crawford, for example, are identical twins who represent binary opposites. Harper smiles, Chastin is serious, Harper is noisy, Chastin is quiet. The manuscript So Be It implies that Verity tends to see everyone through a set of binary oppositions like this. People are either wholly good or wholly bad, and Verity’s opinion seldom changes. Although Lowen can’t seem to see it, she and Verity are very alike. In a way, Lowen and Verity are also “twinned” with one another. Lowen, like Verity, is a thriller writer who falls in love with Jeremy, becomes obsessed with him and eventually does some highly illegal things in order to preserve their relationship.  

The novel also has lots of other different pairs of “doubles”: two “true” stories of Verity’s life, two authors on the joint writing deal Lowen signs, two love stories, two nurses. The motif of doubling is also a physical one. There are many references to people seeing themselves in mirrors, for example, or in the house’s many reflective surfaces. In this novel, when doubles of anything appear they gesture to the human propensity for making the same mistakes repeatedly. Doubling also speaks to the novel’s central theme of the complications of personality. Jeremy, Lowen, Verity, and Crew all hide secrets, making them all lead separate, “double” lives in addition to the ones that are easily visible to others. 


 The various accidents in the novel symbolize the unpredictability and uncontrollability of life and fate. The book starts out with a horrible accident that Lowen witnesses when she's walking through the streets of New York. A stranger is killed by a speeding truck, splattering her with blood. When she begins her interview with Jeremy, she learns that Verity Crawford has been incapacitated in a car accident. When she arrives at the Crawford house, she learns that Verity’s two daughters both died accidentally. By this point, the accidents have ceased to seem like a coincidence. 

 Verity’s autobiography explains clearly that all of the “coincidences” of her meeting Jeremy, their life together, and their children’s deaths were manipulations on her part. In the letter that Lowen later finds, Verity retroactively explains that Lowen finding the autobiography was itself an accident, and that she hadn’t meant to kill Harper at all. Indeed, none of the “accidents” she had explained away were actually premeditated. Crew reveals the letter’s location by accident, Lowen discovers the letter by accident, and in turn destroys the evidence of this accidental, revelatory find. In the novel’s final “accident” she is pregnant with Jeremy’s child, and able to pursue a life with him because of Verity’s “accidental” death. 


Sex in this novel symbolizes connection. Verity believes that her sexual relationship with her husband is the glue that holds their marriage together, and refuses to lose the sexual aspect of her partnership even when she and Jeremy are both grieving. Verity is not particularly sexually experienced, but the author repeatedly says that Jeremy is very sexually skilled and has had many partners. This implies that he is able to connect more easily and with more people than Verity is, although she judges him for a lack of discernment. Lowen has not had many significant relationships in her life, and the death of her mother has cut her off from feeling strong emotions. When she falls in love with Jeremy his sexual prowess makes her feel closer to him. She and Jeremy reproduce sex acts that Lowen knows he had performed with Verity, making her feel uncomfortably present. When they first have sex, it’s in the bed Jeremy and Verity shared, and Lowen’s teeth marks join Verity’s on their marital headboard.