Orphan Train Chapter 38: Spruce Harbor, Maine 2011 Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
Orphan Train

Orphan Train

Orphan Train Chapter 38 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Molly wakes up in the morning, she is surprised to find the ocean outside her window. She goes downstairs to make tea and breakfast, and waits for Vivian. Jack calls. On the phone, she tells him that Ralph and Dina threw her out and she is at Vivian’s. He is angry that she didn’t ask him for help first. She explains that she didn’t want “to burden” him and that she and Vivian are “friends.” When Jack expresses his concern for his mother’s position, Molly assures him that Vivian is understanding and won’t give Terry any problems. She tells Jack that she can’t keep relying on him to save her, because it isn’t healthy. She adds that her relationship with Terry will improve if Terry stops assuming the worst of her. Before hanging up, she says she’s done “something important” in helping Vivian reconcile her past by sorting through the attic.
The ease with which Molly gets up and prepares breakfast and her assertive, patient manner with Jack suggests that she feels peaceful and in control of herself. Molly’s honest, calm explanation of her situation, feelings, and concerns further suggests that she is experiencing a moment of clarity. In contrast with her feelings during previous arguments, Molly no longer feels guilty, anxious, or defensive about Jack’s concerns and his mother’s judgments. Her sense of peace seems related to the security and honesty she has found in her friendship with Vivian.
Themes
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
A couple days later, Molly texts Ralph, telling him that she is safe with Vivian. Ralph calls and demands that Molly return until social services can relocate her. Molly casually suggests that they just not tell social services what happened. Ralph considers her proposal. Molly implies that he and Dina can keep the money the state sends, and Ralph comments that because Vivian isn’t a “certified” foster parent, she wouldn’t want him to “report her missing.” They each agree to report nothing.
Molly’s suggestion highlights her familiarity with the foster system and her confidence that she can motivate Ralph with money. Ralph’s comment about Vivian not being certified appears to be a gentle threat to report Molly as missing if she tells the authorities that Ralph and Dina are illegally collecting on her. They essentially form a mutual pact to keep each other quiet.
Themes
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
Terry isn’t pleased when she discovers Molly staying at Vivian’s house. Vivian tells her that she “invited” Molly to stay and that Molly “graciously accepted.” When Terry raises further objections, Vivian assures her that she likes having Molly there and then closes the conversation. Vivian gives Molly two rooms – one to study for finals and one to sleep – at the opposite end of the house. With Vivian, Molly feels free to do as she pleases without the “judgment and criticism” she has become so accustomed to. She realizes she’s been “walking on thin wire” and now feels she is “on solid ground.”
Vivian frames the story of Molly’s arrival to highlight her own agency and remove any blame from Molly. Given Vivian’s childhood, her hospitality toward Molly seems natural; it is as if she is giving Molly the home she herself once needed. In contrast with Molly’s previous homes, Molly isn’t afraid that she’s going to do something wrong and lose her place with Vivian. Vivian thereby gives her the safety and freedom to be fully herself.
Themes
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon