Orphan Train Chapter 33: Spruce Harbor, Maine Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
Orphan Train

Orphan Train

Orphan Train Chapter 33 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Before Molly leaves, Ralph offers her pocket money, a ride, and help with packing. Molly turns him down, resisting the urge to hug him and say thank you. She carries her two duffel bags and laptop onto the local bus, leaving most of her things behind. She gets out at the stop near Vivian’s and lumbers uphill. She thinks of her portaging project and imagines herself as a Penobscot Indian journeying with all her possessions. She wears her charm necklace, but thinks of how “the things that matter stay with you, seep into your skin.” When she gets to Vivian’s she calls instead of ringing the doorbell. Vivian is startled and worried. Realizing that she’s “freaked” Vivian out, Molly starts to cry. Vivian soothes her and promises to come right down. At her doorstep, seeing Molly with her bags, Vivian says: “come in this minute and tell me what happened.”
Rejecting Ralph’s last-ditch efforts to help her gives Molly a sense of power in a situation that is largely beyond her control, and shows just how feeble Ralph’s “help” really is when he won’t actually stand up to Dina. Just like her Penobscot ancestors, Molly must again choose what to carry and what to leave behind. Her observation that “the things that matter […] seep into your skin” suggests that some experiences, both good and painful, come along with her “baggage” whether she wants them to or not. She has been focusing on her anger to survive the night, but the thought that even Vivian might reject her is too much for Molly to tolerate.
Themes
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Vivian makes tea and tucks Molly into a chair with a quilt. Vivian asks Molly to share what’s going on. Molly tells her everything, from her childhood to the loss of her parents and her journey through the foster care system. She tells her about the fight with Dina and about stealing Jane Eyre from the library. She apologizes to Vivian for coming into her home “under false pretenses.” Vivian reassures her that she isn’t angry, saying, “I suppose we all come under false pretenses one way or another, don’t we?” Vivian tells Molly that she has “paid her dues,” but Molly responds that it “hasn’t felt like punishment.” Feeling burdened by the secret about Maisie, Molly then carefully tells Vivian her discovery. She shows her the photo of Maisie online, and Vivian is stunned to see her baby sister’s blonde hair turned grey. “All these years, there were two of them,” she says.
This passage parallels the scene in Niamh’s storyline when Niamh arrives at the door of the schoolhouse, as Vivian’s hospitality resembles Miss Larsen’s reaction to Niamh’s arrival. Like Niamh, Molly is finally in a place where she feels emotionally safe enough to share her story. Vivian’s line that “we all come under false pretenses” points to her history of pretending in order to survive, as well as her childhood experience with deceitful adults. Her awareness of human nature and her personal connection to Molly’s situation keep her from feeling angry or judgmental.
Themes
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon