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Memento Mac Guffin / Literature

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  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, R.A.B.'s locket, which Harry carried with him "as a reminder of what it had cost and what remained still to do."
    • Some rather useful objects are also Memento MacGuffins for Harry, such as his Invisibility Cloak, and several Memento MacGuffins end up being useful, like the shard of the broken Two-way mirror.
    • The town of Godric's Hollow was one for Harry and possibly Voldemort and Dumbledore as well.
    • And apparently even Snape is sentimental enough to hang onto a page of a letter just because it was signed 'Love, Lily' The letter wasn't even addressed to him.
  • Vimes's silver cigar case in Night Watch.
  • The mansion Manderly, in Daphne de Maurier's Rebecca, fits this—it alternates between being the main character's haven and being a grim shrine to the dead Rebecca, giving it a dual identity as a Memento MacGuffin and a really big Artifact of Doom.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth stories (The Silmarillion, The Lord of the Rings) there often appear (new or old, or ancient) gifts and heirlooms, some of them important to the plot and some not. One example is the Ring of Barahir, owned by Aragorn at the time of the LotR, which by then is the most ancient artifact known to be kept by humans, being at least over six thousand years old. It was passed through generations of Númenórean kings and lords and Northern Dúnedain kings, but was originally gifted to Barahir by the elf Finrod as a symbol of friendship and loyalty for saving his life.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's Thuvia, Maid of Mars, Carthoris finds a hair ornament, with the insignia of Thuvia's house—and unfortunately, blood. He instantly adds it to his own harness before going in search.
  • In Bones of Faerie the Missouri quarter that is given to her by Caleb. It once belonged to her mother.
  • In Taran Wanderer, the fourth book of The Chronicles of Prydain, Taran doesn't want to give up the sword he carries because Princess Eilonwy was the one to gird it on him.
  • Snidely subverted in Monstrous Regiment, in which a character's lover asked for a token of her affection, offering to have the village smith break it in half so they can each keep part of it, to re-join when he comes back from the war. She gave him a sixpence to take to the smith's, and he ran off with it and never came back.
  • Sayuri from Memoirs of a Geisha kept the handkerchief that the Chairman had given her when they first met when she was twelve years old. And when she became a geisha, she would carry it with her for good luck.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Have Space Suit Will Travel, Kip receives a "happy thing" (a stone containing a feeling of love, just for him) from his alien mentor. It serves as proof for his interstellar adventure.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The People of the Black Circle", the necromancers use one to get a hold of the king's hair to murder him.
    But at the urgent entreaty of the princess of Khosala, who loved Bhunda Chand vainly, he gave her a lock of his long black hair as a token of remembrance.
  • The Peacock Parure in Aunt Dimity: Snowbound wasn't simply the family jewels of the DeClerkes, it was a reminder of the suitor Lucasta DeClerke lost in World War II—hence her deep distress when it was stolen.
  • In Galaxy of Fear, Tash Arranda and her mother each had a necklace with a tiny red crystal, noted to be worthless but with great sentimental value after Alderaan was destroyed. Late in the series Tash feels secure enough to wear it under her clothes and practice telekinesis on it in quiet moments.
  • Jem's mother's family ring in The Infernal Devices, which he uses to propose to Tessa.
  • Forbidden—the silver bracelet Lochan gives Maya for Christmas, engraved: Maya, love you forever. Lochan x.
  • Robin's pendant in The Girl from the Miracles District, which is his only connection to his origins and the past he can barely remember.
  • Kings of the Wyld: Gabe carries around a bunch of rocks that his daughter Rose found when she was a little girl. They're just boring ordinary rocks, and Clay says that Rose isn't going to care about them. Gabe says that they're not a gift, they're to put on Rose's grave if she's already dead. After he gets a chance to talk to her using magic, he puts them on Shadow's grave instead, since they're not worth hauling all the way to Castia now that they know she's alive.