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Why Does Izzy Set the Fire in Little Fires Everywhere?

The Truth About the Fire in Little Fires Everywhere — Straight From the Book

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE, Megan Stott, The Spark, (Season 1, ep. 101, aired Mar. 18, 2020). photo: Erin Simkin / Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

Hulu's limited series Little Fires Everywhere begins with where Celeste Ng's novel starts and ends: the Richardson house getting burnt to a crisp. Elena Richardson, played by Reese Witherspoon, looks at her home in disbelief. Her youngest daughter Izzy (Megan Stott) has disappeared without a trace, and everyone is convinced that she's the arsonist. After the first three episodes, there's a question that lingers: why did Izzy set the fires? The series hasn't given us a clear motive, but you'll find answers in the book.

So far, what we know in the Hulu adaptation is that tensions are at an all-time high between Elena and Izzy. Izzy chafes with her mother's straight-laced ways. Bullied by the girls at school, she burns her hair off, refuses to wear Elena's hand-selected clothes, and bursts out in class. Of everyone in Shaker Heights, Mia (Kerry Washington) understands Izzy for who she is, an artist.

We've yet to see if the remaining five episodes will faithfully adhere to Ng's novel, but it would make sense that it all plays out to the same conclusion. In the book, Elena continues snooping into Mia's background, and, by the end, confronts her about her surrogacy and Pearl's father. Hearing this, Mia pulls Pearl out of school, announcing that they have to move from Shaker Heights ASAP. Before this all goes down, Mia leaves Izzy with words about how people are like a prairie fire, that after the burning, the soil becomes richer and new things can grow.

Izzy soon learns that Mia has left permanently and is angry at how terrible her family was to the Warrens. Incensed and inspired by Mia's last words, she sets fires on her family's beds, unaware that her mother was still inside the house. Afterward, she heads to Pittsburgh in hopes of finding the Warrens, vowing to leave home again if caught. Elena, on the other hand, swears to keep looking for her daughter. In the weeks to come, we'll learn if this is indeed the fiery end to the series.

Image Source: Everett Collection
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