The characters in Tommy Orange’s There There represent a collective “Urban Indian” experience that is made up of both hardship and perseverance. While some characters fall into the traps set for them by society and generational trauma, others find it within themselves to resist those traps and identify with their true “self”. By applying Lacanian psychoanalysis to the charter development seen in the novel, Lacan’s theories of “lack” and the “mirror stage” can be identified as playing a major role in the character’s choices and behaviors. This is specifically evident in Orange’s repetition in the use of spiders, webs, and even bumps on the skin of characters containing spider legs, as a metaphor that symbolizes and signifies a character’s emergence from the traps of generational trauma and finding the “self”.
Leite, Jessica, "Tommy Orange’s Spider Symbolism as It Connects to Lacanian Psychoanalysis" (2021). Open Books -- Open Minds: All Submissions. 25.