- Fridge Brilliance: Locaha is portrayed as more callous than Pterry's usual depictions of Death (by whatever name). This is a double case of brilliance, as A) Mau, if he's only imagining Locaha, has lost everyone he's ever known and is unlikely to imagine Death as anything but callous, and B) if Locaha is for real, then as this Verse's Death, he's just recently been very very busy dealing with the consequences of both a massive pandemic and a devastating tsunami, so probably isn't inclined to be sociable right now.
- Squick: Pig. Milk. Specifically, what Mau had to do to get the pig's milk, namely cover himself in stinking mud, wriggle close to a sow (which he'd gotten drunk with beer-laced vegetables), and then put his mouth to the sow's muddy, stinking belly and suck out mouthfuls of milk, because pigs don't have udders you can milk by hand.
- Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Mau, because he was perfectly aware all the time just how disgusting the act was... and he still did it, because the alternative was having an innocent baby starve to death.
- Tear Jerker: Lots. Especially Daphne and the coffin memories (which are somehow edited by Mrs. Gurgle).
- Toy Ship: Daphne and Mau are only young teenagers when the story starts, which Daphne keeps lampshading.
- The Woobie: Mau. He starts off with his whole tribe dying in a tidal wave, after which he goes BSOD while preparing the bodies for dolphinhood. He almost drowns himself. He almost drowns himself again while saving Daphne. After this, his catchphrase/Survival Mantra becomes "Does Not Happen", and he proceeds to become the Badass leader of the emerging tribe. It is stated by other characters that he works himself too hard and doesn't eat or sleep (which nearly kills him), because he's that goddamn traumatised.
- At night he guards the Nation by standing on the beach with a spear. Who is he expecting? The freaking god of death. Whom he meets. Temporarily. Also qualifies as an Iron Woobie. "Does Not Happen!"
- Stoic Woobie: Daphne's father, who lost his wife and baby son tragically, and must put up with his tyrannical mother running both his and his daughter's lives as well. He works all day and half the night as a distraction from his own pain, and takes a job halfway around the world in search of a place where he can find some peace. Then his daughter disappears in a tidal wave.