The Wanderer

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Themes and Colors
The Passage of Time  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Wanderer, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The Wanderer makes its readers think about what “time” really is—if it exists “out there” in the world, or if it’s just something we make up in our heads. For example, when the crew has docked at Block Island soon after setting sail from Connecticut, Sophie says that, even though she’s on land again, the world around her already feels more fluid. She wants to get out into the open ocean soon, though—for out in…

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Sophie constantly battles the otherwise all-male crew’s perception of her as a female throughout the book. Because she’s a girl, they think she’s somehow unfit for the hard work demanded by sailing across the ocean, and that she’s too weak to face the potential hardships they could face along the way. Though the rest of the crew seems determined to discourage Sophie from joining them in their trip, she refuses to back down. She’s…

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Throughout the book, Sophie’s accounts of her past—who her real parents are, how she came to hear Bompie’s stories—contrast with the crew’s views of her. Sophie is already quite the dreamer by heart, but she also seems to make up a lot about her past—she always finds ways to avoid answering questions about who her “real” parents were, and what happened to them.

For instance, whenever Brian or Cody bring up or ask…

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At the core of The Wanderer is an exploration of family relationships—particularly the father-son relationship between Mo and Cody and the relationship Sophie has with her foster family. The book explores how individuals—particularly Sophie and Cody—partly form their identities based on the relationships they have with their family.

Though Sophie’s life seems to be at the core of the book, Cody’s log entries also feature prominently throughout. One of the main topics Cody’s entries focus…

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The Wanderer raises a lot of questions about the purpose and meaning of life, as well as the relationship between life and death—what death is really like, and whether it truly provides a path out of life.

Perhaps one of the most profound moments of the book is when Sophie and Cody discuss life and death after “The Wave” almost kills them. Sophie and Cody wonder if whether, when you almost die, you…

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