by Mary Norton
illustrated by Diana Stanley
Week of July 26, 2009
Homily has her back against the wall. Pod has been seen. They awaken Arrietty to tell her of this predicament and to explain the dangers of “upstairs” and about Uncle Hendreary, Aunt Lupy and Eggletina.
Pod explained his system of gates throughout the passageways and that they were there to keep Pod, Arrietty and Homily safe inside their apartment. Cousin Eggletina was never told about gates and Uncle Hendreary never kept them properly closed and locked. One day Eggletina managed to get out through the gates and upstairs and was never heard from again. She was wearing a lovely blue dress and a pair of yellow kid books with jet beards for buttons that her Uncle Pod had made for her. Uncle Hendreary was a broken man after Eggletina’s disappearance and never went upstairs again in case he found those button-boots. Their only future was to emigrate to a new location.
Arrietty asked why they were telling her this now!! Homily comes right out and says “your father’s been seen! When she learns that her father has been seen, she asked if they could emigrate. Homily was horrified at the thought of winding up living in a hole somewhere with worms, weasels, cold and damp. Arrietty doesn’t believe Eggletina was eaten by the cat. She believes that she was so bored from living under the floors that she just ran away. Arrietty explains her feelings of being cooped up all the time with no friends or extended family, and nothing to do except stay in the apartments under the kitchen. Homily finally realized Arrietty had been missing out on not having any friends, no family around, no one else except her mother and father. She never left the little apartment under the kitchen. She was young and yearned for something beyond their rooms. She decides that she will allow Arrietty to go upstairs to “borrow” with her father.
Holey Frijoles! I absolutely cannot believe that Homily is the one who suggests that Arrietty become a Borrower with her father! Homily, who is timid and insecure! But it is so. Of course, Arrietty wants to go out for reasons of her own--blue sky, freedom, and to get away from the 'gates, gates, gates'. But will Pod let her? He didn't seem to awfully keen on the whole idea.
And Eggletina--we still don't really know what happened to her. Did
the cat get her? Or, as Arrietty says--did she just run away because she couldn't
stand being cooped up anymore?
I bet she does end up going out with father but she better be VERY
careful. It's a BIG world out there...
Homily does have her own reasons for letting Arrietty “borrow”. She is determined to stay in their apartment under the kitchen and not be subjected to a move to an unknown location such as the badger set where Uncle Hendreary and Aunt Lupy wound up. However, I also think she is doing it for Arrietty, to let her go upstairs and experience something new beyond the apartments under the floor boards. Perhaps if Arrietty can borrow and see the upstairs, that will be enough of a diversion from her isolation and boredom that she will no longer want to emigrate from the house. She will be with Pod so should be safe. I’m sure she is very afraid for Arrietty but at the same time, the fear of moving to a new location seems even worse.
I wonder just how long the Clocks will be able to stay in a house where everyone is so old and may not be around much longer, although there is that new boy; and there is the possibility of others moving into the house at a later time. Still, it could be difficult if the upstairs people are gone for awhile and no one is living in the house.
I can’t wait to see if there is more on Eggletina later in the story.
Don’t you just love the names of the families – the Broom-Cupboard boys, the Rain-Pipes, Rosa Pickhachet, the Harpsichords, the Overmantels, Linen-Press, etc.
I agree--poor Homily seems to have made the best of a not-so-ideal situation. It would be cool if they discovered other Borrowers in the house, but I can't see it. Pod would have known.
I hadn't considered that they might have to move if the elderly owner
of the house passes away! I think Homily has, though, and lives in dread of
I think Pod also influenced Homily's decision when he reminded her
of all the fun they used to have with their neighbors and how Arrietty had none
to play with her.
Right! I hadn't thought of that. Pod doesn't seem to want Arrietty
to borrow, but what choice does he really have?
Yes, poor Homily does live in fear. She has reason with Pod going out on his dangerous borrowing missions. What if he never came back? What would she and Arrietty do? I can't see Homily striking out and emigrating. Arrietty would have to start borrowing if they were to survive. I think Homily would just be too afraid and skittish to go upstairs. I can just see her shrieking at anything that startled her and then the game would be up.
Arrietty makes a good point about life in general when she says "I don't think it's so clever to live on alone, forever and ever, in a great, big, half-empty house; under the floor, with no one to talk to, no one to play with, nothing to see but dust and passages, no light but candlelight and firelight and what comes through the cracks.” Yes her father is a wonderful borrower and they have managed to stay when all the others have gone, but "what has it done for us, in the end?"