When Marlene expressed an interest in knowing about Noa’s name, she reveals that, had her husband not objected, she would have named given Sarah the Jewish name, Noa. Since Sarah is also a Hebrew name, I looked up the meaning for both on the Jewish website, Aish.com. Like most Hebrew girls’ names which carry an attractive, desirable meaning such as hope, grace, love, beautiful, joy, faith, etc., Sarah is the symbol for ‘princess’. Noa, however, means “to tremble or shake.” I’m not sure that this contrast was intended, but it does seem appropriate.
I do believe that in spite of Noa’s sarcastic assurance that she was well aware her name was Jewish, she did not intend to adopt the Hebrew translation. Nor am I convinced of her casual explanation that she changed it to appear cool and original. Maybe the most revealing comment is about her belief that her mother’s motive in naming her Noah was because she really wanted a boy. This suggests that in changing the spelling of her name she is both protesting the fact that she wasn’t wanted or loved enough to be given her own name and saying “Look at me. I’m me. Noa.” This would be consistent with that brief time in her life when she had a hopeful future.