Netflix’s ‘The Wonder’ is the story of Anna O’Donnell, a young girl who claims to live without eating food for a long period of time. By the time English nurse, Lib Wright arrives at her doorstep, it has already been four months since Anna last ate. Still, she looks considerably well for a person who should at least show symptoms of starvation, if not outright death. Lib, and the others, know that something is sustaining Anna, but they all have different opinions about it.
Some think she’s secretly eating food, others think that she has found a way to sustain herself on air. The doctor even goes as far as to suggest that her body might be synthesizing its own food, like plants. Anna, however, says that it is manna from heaven that keeps her alive. What is it and what does it mean for Anna? Let’s find out. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Manna From Heaven Meaning
In the Bible, manna is the food that the Israelites received from God during the Exodus. This is what sustained them for the forty-year period. Words like “bread of heaven” and “angel’s food” is used to describe it. Its mention in ‘The Wonder’ highlights the significance of faith and religion in the story and paves the path for the things to come for Anna O’Donnell. It is established pretty early in the film that Anna’s situation has been interpreted by many people as a miracle from God. She has become kind of a local celebrity and has visitors all the time who revere her. Her own family seems to be caught up in this story that has been fabricated around her and that’s where manna comes in.
After a thorough investigation and looking at Anna’s situation from every angle, Lib deduces that the girl’s mother has been feeding her for the past four months, though it has been a rather tricky thing to do. For Anna, her fasting is the real deal. She is not pretending or faking anything. She really believes in what she’s been doing and is intent on seeing it through, even if it means her death. This is why she tells her family not to give her anything to eat. However, despite their faith and beliefs, Anna’s mother knows that her daughter will surely die without food, so she comes up with a way to convince her to eat something, just enough to keep her alive.
It is pretty clear that Anna won’t take food in its normal form, so her mother attributes a deeper meaning to it. She chews the food and then gives it to Anna while kissing her good morning and good night. As Kitty later tells Lib, “a mother’s kiss is sacred” and Anna believes in it with “complete devotion”. She has already filled her mind with all sorts of things, interpreting the words in the Bible according to herself. So, to keep her alive, her mother extrapolates on this ruse and disguises food as “manna” to her.
The Biblical nature of manna convinces Anna of the whole thing so much that whenever someone asks her whether or not she has eaten food, she says she hasn’t. It’s not that she is lying, she simply believes what she has been saying. Others believe that manna is like God’s grace or something. They never stop to think that it might not be a spiritual or religious thing at all.
It is Anna’s unwavering belief in her faith, fasting, and manna that makes it impossible for Lib to make her accept the truth of the situation. To her credit, the nurse then uses the same thing, in the end, to make Anna leave behind her life and family and run away with her and Will Byrne to a different place as a different person where she won’t have her whole village not only watching her slowly die in front of their eyes but also celebrating her for it.
Read More: When and Where Does The Wonder Take Place?