Orphan Train

Orphan Train


Christina Baker Kline

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Orphan Train: Chapter 37 Summary & Analysis

Vivian has just finished telling Molly about her baby, May. They are going through a trunk with Dutchy’s possessions and the baby blanket Vivian made during her pregnancy. “Oh, Vivian, you gave her away,” Molly says. She asks about Vivian’s second marriage to Dutchy’s shipmate, Jim Daly. Vivian explains that she loved Jim, though they weren’t in love the way she and Dutchy were. They met after the war and found comfort in each other’s company. She says Jim was “enough.” Molly relates deeply to the “depth of emotion” that she senses under Vivian’s “resolute unsentimentality.” Vivian explains that she and Jim got along and managed the business well together. Vivian never told Jim about her daughter, but made it clear that she didn’t want kids. Molly asks whether Vivian wants to find her daughter, but Vivian says she must “live with” her “decision.” Vivian then decides it’s time for bed.
Molly’s words, “Oh, Vivian, you gave her away,” show her shared sense of sorrow rather than any judgment—since like Vivian, Molly was a motherless child. Molly’s sadness reflects her empathy both for Vivian’s loss and for the daughter who was given away. In Vivian’s explanation of her marriage to Jim Daly, she implies that Jim provided company without bringing the danger of loss that comes with intense love. The “depth of emotion” Molly perceives in Vivian refers to her deep capacity for love, as well as her grief, loneliness, and fear of loss. Molly’s parallel life experiences have given her the same intense feelings that she has guarded with the same “resolute unsentimentality.”
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