Orphan Train

Orphan Train

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Orphan Train Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After one week, Molly realizes that Vivian isn’t throwing out anything in the attic. Vivian talks about things and Molly puts them into a new box. When Molly mentions this, Vivian claims the project is just to help Molly. Vivian finds her favorite book, Anne of Green Gables, a gift from Miss Larsen. Vivian then asks Molly what she was like growing up. Molly remembers how she stopped talking very much after losing her parents, but she only gives Vivian short responses. Vivian tells Molly she senses that she is a “reader” because she sees that she “feels deeply.” She gently gives Molly Anne of Green Gables as a gift. Surprising herself, Molly feels overwhelmed with emotion, but she tries to appear “neutral.” A while later, Vivian randomly asks about Molly’s feelings toward her mother. Molly is getting used to Vivian’s questions, though she feels uncomfortable because nobody else has ever taken such an interest.
Vivian’s pattern of taking things out and talking about them with Molly suggests that the project is accomplishing something else beside helping Molly fulfill her community service hours: it is also giving Molly the opportunity to unpack her past with someone who can be a witness to her story. Vivian’s earlier comment that people have children so that someone will “care about the stuff they leave behind” suggests that elderly people often feel the need for someone to pass their story onto. Vivian’s interest in Molly’s life is unsettling because Molly isn’t used to people trying to get to know her. Vivian’s gift is powerful to Molly, whose previous theft from the library suggests that she sees books as precious.
Themes
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
Molly is with Jack in his car. She is sitting on his lap, facing him in the driver’s seat while they kiss. Molly complains that Vivian is “all up in [her] business,” but Jack encourages Molly to be friendlier with Vivian, reasoning that she is just “lonely.” Molly insists that she doesn’t care to “entertain” Vivian. Jack pulls Molly’s waistband down to reveal a small tattoo of a turtle. He playfully names the turtle Carlos, but Molly explains that he “isn’t a Carlos” because he’s a symbol in Penobscot mythology. Jack teases that Molly probably just got the turtle on a whim, but Molly insists that the turtle represents “strength and perseverance” because “turtles carry their homes on their backs.” Molly remembers her pet turtle, Shelly. She wonders aloud whether Shelly was left to die in her tank. Jack comforts her. With Jack in his car, Molly feels “cocooned.”
Jack’s interest in Molly’s community service shows his determination to seeing her stay out of juvenile detention, which in turn shows his commitment to her wellbeing and their relationship. Perhaps it is this commitment that makes Molly feel emotionally safe – “cocooned” – with Jack. Molly’s insistence on explaining her tattoo’s meaning reveals how important her culture remains to her identity. The turtle, like Molly, “carries its home on its back.” The turtle tattoo shows how Molly makes meaning from her experiences in order to find strength to go on.
Themes
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon