My Family and Other Animals


Gerald Durrell

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My Family and Other Animals: Part 3: The Return Summary & Analysis

Soon after, Kralefsky informs Mother that he can't teach Gerry anything else, so Gerry will need to continue his studies in England or Switzerland. Though Gerry tells Mother that he likes being half-educated, she insists they move so Gerry can continue his studies. Gerry constructs cages for his menagerie and not long after, the family leaves the villa for the customs shed at the quay. Theodore and Kralefsky come to see the family off, and Mother and the customs officer quickly get into an argument. Spiro arrives in time to angrily berate the customs agent and move the luggage away before he can do anything.
Gerry's insistence that he doesn't want to be educated is another way of him saying that he's not particularly keen on growing up. Though it's understandable why he's sad to leave Corfu, this specific sentiment suggests that Gerry still hasn't fully realized that growing up and receiving education aren't as awful as he thinks. By doing so, he could grow up to be like Theodore or like Kralefsky, who maintain their childish curiosity while moving through the world as adults.
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Kralefsky, Theodore, and Spiro bid the family goodbye, and Spiro bursts into heaving sobs. Finally, the family boards the boat and wave at their friends. They feel depressed all the way back to England. In Switzerland, an unsmiling official checks passports and hands Mother a slip of paper. Mother is indignant: the form asked for a description of passengers, and the man had written "one traveling circus and staff." Mother angrily declares that some people are peculiar.
Mother's final assessment of this official shows that she has truly taken the magic of Corfu to heart and now embraces her family's eccentricities. This suggests that Mother will now be able to move through life seeing mishaps and ridiculous situations as positive and humorous, rather than disastrous.
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