Orphan Train

Orphan Train

Orphan Train Chapter 35 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dutchy hugs Vivian, holding her “tighter than anyone has ever held [her].” He tells her that he has looked for her “in crowds” over the years. They marvel at having found one another and “cling to each other like survivors of a shipwreck.” Dutchy says he goes by “Luke” now. He is scheduled to play piano at the bar, but he asks her to stay after his performance. They walk into the bar together, and Vivian sits with her friends. They tease her about finding a man so quickly. During dinner, Vivian focuses only on Dutchy’s beautiful songs, which she interprets as messages for her. She realizes how lonely her “journey” has been until now that she has been reunited with her “fellow outsider.” After dinner, Vivian’s friends—who are now drunk and giddy—leave her with her “dreamboat.” Vivian waits for Dutchy to pack his things.
The unlikelihood of Vivian and Dutchy’s chance reunion and all of the emotion it evokes create a powerfully dramatic and romantic scene. Vivian’s sense that she and Dutchy are “survivors of a shipwreck” and “fellow outsiders” implies that traumatic experiences are by nature psychologically alienating. Though they have lived different lives, their shared experiences and parallel journeys give them a sense of understanding and intimacy that they can’t feel with other people. Vivian’s friends’ perception that she has quickly found a new “dreamboat” highlights how little they know about the realities of her life.
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
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
Vivian and Dutchy hold hands as they walk onto the streets. At Vivian’s hotel, Dutchy bribes the clerk to let him in. In her bedroom, Dutchy doesn’t ask before lying down on the bed, and Vivian lies down in his arms. Vivian has never been this close to a man (consensually), but it feels normal when Dutchy kisses her. She tells Dutchy everything. Dutchy tells her he ran away several times from the cruel farmer who beat him often. Eventually, a kind neighbor traded the farmer a pig in exchange for Dutchy. The neighbor then sent Dutchy to school and paid for his piano lessons. Music gave Dutchy a way to “express [his] feelings.” They discuss the “relief” they feel at becoming adults. As they fall asleep together, Vivian considers the chain of life events that have precipitated this moment. After experiencing so many “losses and connections” by “chance,” she feels that “fate” has finally intervened.
The ease of Vivian and Dutchy’s physical interactions reveals their natural sense of safety and intimacy with one another. This highlights their enduring connection and further supports Vivian’s perception that “fate” has brought them together. The stories they share show their parallel journeys as orphans subject to mistreatment and reliant on the kindness of strangers. Their shared “relief” at becoming adults likewise parallels Molly’s distaste for being reliant on the mercy of others. Vivian’s belief in “fate” shows how her reunion with Dutchy has brought a sense of meaning back into her life.
Themes
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
On the way back to Hemingford the next day, Vivian resists Lillian’s prodding questions and lies about how she knows Dutchy. She tells her it doesn’t matter because “it’s not like [she’s] going to marry him or anything.” But ten months later, in a small ceremony at the Nielsens’ church, Vivian marries Dutchy (“Luke Maynard”).
Vivian’s refusal to describe her meeting with Dutchy in detail highlights how deeply personal she considers their love story to be. Even though Vivian’s story now takes a happy turn, her later comments to Molly about her marriage and her lonely life forebode trouble.
Themes
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon