The Number Nine

I think this novel has me over-analyzing minor details, but has anyone else noticed the frequent use of the number nine? The number nine appears on page 239 when the twins are playing The Animal Game. Freya tells Shasti, “You can only change your mind nine times.”

On page 272, jingjing counts nine people on the top floor of a building that he refers to as a palace. Even though he counted four on each side (which would equal 8,) it’s “always nine.”

Isandorno can’t say the number nine unless he taps out nine by fingers to thumb. He does this on page 307.

I think the number nine stood out to me because its relevance to cats. Cats are said to have nine lives and there have been many mentions of cats so far in the novel.



About icarlyrose

Hey, my name is Carly. I am a New York native, but graduated from Clemson University down in Clemson, SC with a degree in Sports Communication. I am passionate about sports, especially baseball, and also enjoy video editing, graphic design, and photography. You can follow me on twitter: @icarly_rose

6 responses to “The Number Nine”

  1. lcthomas says :

    Carly, you may want to check out this post on the number three. It seems you’ve both picked up on a similar pattern.

  2. sarahedgey says :

    Don’t worry, it’s not just you analyzing these minor details. But, I think Danielewski does this on purpose (of course). We discussed many of these types of details in our class discussion, and we spent most of the time discussing the number 9. It is everywhere in this novel!! I’m not sure what it means, but I hope we find out. Just to add to your list on the number 9 being mentioned…
    -Luther has 9 dogs
    -Astair’s thesis took her 9 years

  3. lenolora says :

    I noticed the number nine in relation to Xanther in particular. Every art page before her point-of-view chapters has nine circles with varying objects or patterns inside them (as of page 608). These nine circles could be seen as raindrops, which Xanther is often thinking about (48). This worries me because of how Xanther describes rain, “There’s one answer: rain is just water with holes in it. Lots and lots of holes. Adding up to one big hole. One all engulfing catsum. Brutal. Banishing” (67). It seems like the characters are surrounded by something bigger than them that could destroy them, especially since the back of the book mentions “nine lives hanging in the balance”. You can find the art pages with nine circles on pages 48 ,178, 326, and 455.

    Also, she works on solving a Rubik’s cube at Dr. Potts’s office. Rubik’s cubes have nine squares per side, like there are nine characters. As a reader, I feel that we are also trying to match all these characters together and make sense of how they interact. Xanther is able to solve one side for the first time during this visit. Could this show that the characters will finally start to come together or affect each other? Also, Xanther solved the white side which makes me wonder if the white kitten she saves is the connecting force (199)?

  4. ajelias says :

    Great ideas! here are some more instances:

    The Narcons are numbered 9,3,27

    There will be 27 volumes in this book series

    Astair’s thesis has 81 pages

    Nine tip-tip-tip sounds of water in Mnatsagan’s office (401)

    Shnorkh carries boxes out of Mnatsagan’s office 9 times (402)

    Astair originally was told to desire a Catholic family of 9 kids (447)

    There are 9 radio stations that Xanther cycles through in the car (458)

    jingjing counts 10 “bow ties” along the side of raeden sim lin’s bed, but they add up to 9 (535)

    Luther has 9 bullet holes in him (608)

    • lenolora says :

      In my earlier comment, I said that every chapter from Xanther’s perspective started with 9 circles on the art page before it (as I had only read to page 608). However, on page 787, there are 10 circles on the art page. Since there are only supposed to be 9 main narratives according to the back of the book, I was wondering what the 10th circle might represent. Maybe it represents the cat, since it is the only addition to Xanther’s life from her last chapter on page 455. Or perhaps it represents Narcon9, who has it’s own section on pages 563-578.

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  1. Xanther and Nine | marianlaforest - January 22, 2015

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