The Intricacies of Honesty and Secrecy in 'Liars Don't Qualify'

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 765 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 8, 2024

Words: 765|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 8, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Imagery as a Literary Device
  2. Symbolism
  3. Character Development
  4. Conclusion

The idea of honesty is a fundamental quality humans often look for in one another. It is the characteristic that allows people to trust and have faith in each other, build relationships, and flourish as a society. However, in certain situations, people are forced to tread a fine line between the value of honesty and the need for secrecy. This theme is excellently portrayed in the novel ‘Liars Don’t Qualify’ by Vivian Vande Velde.

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The story revolves around Kevin, a teenager who is forced to relocate with his family to a new town due to his father’s reassignment in a new job. The new town emphasizes the need for honesty above all else, as evidenced by the rigid rules observed by the town’s residents. Kevin struggles to fit in since he has a secret that he is hiding from everyone he encounters - he has a disorder that makes him compulsively lie.

Velde uses Kevin’s story to explore the consequences of dishonesty and the balance between honesty and secrecy. This essay contains a critical analysis of how the author uses different literary techniques such as imagery, symbolism, and character development to deliver an essential message - that the value of honesty cannot be undermined, and every action has consequences.

Imagery as a Literary Device

Velde leverages imagery to portray the contrast between Kevin's hometown and his new town. For instance, his hometown is illustrated as a place where people value personal space and are not too bothered by what others are doing. They just do their thing and let others do theirs. On the contrary, the new town is portrayed as one where each move is monitored and judged by others. Shunning a place where lying is rampant, the new town puts a premium on the honesty of its residents, which is manifested in the use of a lie detector for even minor issues such as not doing homework.

The frequent use of light and dark imagery also reveals the agony Kevin is going through. At home, Kevin's world is dark, and he feels trapped, alone and misunderstood. On the other hand, the new town is portrayed as bright and cheerful, with a clear blue sky, which Kevin finds attractive, hoping it will bring a change in his life. The imagery employed by Velde helps the reader to understand Kevin's predicament and the nature of his experiences in the two towns.


The novel’s title ‘Liars Don’t Qualify’ is itself symbolic, and the author uses this symbolism throughout the story. That is, the lie detector test is used as a symbol of the towns’ obsession with honesty, used to weed out even minor dishonesties. Although it may seem like a perfect way of enforcing honest behavior, the use of the lie detector test often leads to anxiety, mistrust, and even paranoia among the residents.

Further, the yellow dog in the story could be viewed as a parallel of Kevin's experiences. Much like the dog, Kevin feels unwanted, alone, and misunderstood. Kevin even goes as far as describing the dog as “alone against the world” since it cannot find anyone to take care of it, much like Kevin, who is hiding his true identity from everyone in town.

Character Development

Velde uses different characters to explore the theme of honesty. For instance, Sylvia, Kevin's sister, is portrayed as an honest character, but she is only interested in garnering the benefits of living in a town where honesty is a core value. Sylvia eventually learns the hard way that dishonesty has consequences, especially when she is labeled a thief by the town’s residents.

On the other hand, Kevin's character reflects a struggle between his desire to be honest and his compulsive lying, which he cannot control. Despite his best intentions, Kevin realizes that being honest may lead to him being ostracized and forced to leave the town, a fate he is trying to avoid. Therefore, to fit in, he has to put honesty aside and embrace his disorder. Kevin’s character development serves as the novel's backbone, culminating in his ultimate decision to choose honesty over secrecy and the willingness to face the consequences.

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Liars Don’t Qualify is a powerful literary masterpiece that discusses significant themes such as honesty, the consequences of dishonesty, and the apparent need for secrecy. The author, through the use of literary techniques, brings out the story’s intricacies and complexities, allowing readers to appreciate the balance between honesty and secrecy. While the novel is centered on Kevin's struggle with his disorder, it has a broader message that resonates with readers of all ages - Honesty is a fundamental value that should not be left to chance.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

The Intricacies of Honesty and Secrecy in ‘Liars Don’t Qualify’. (2024, March 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“The Intricacies of Honesty and Secrecy in ‘Liars Don’t Qualify’.” GradesFixer, 07 Mar. 2024,
The Intricacies of Honesty and Secrecy in ‘Liars Don’t Qualify’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
The Intricacies of Honesty and Secrecy in ‘Liars Don’t Qualify’ [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 07 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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