Orphan Train

Orphan Train

Mr. Sorenson Character Analysis

Mr. Sorenson is the local social worker for the Children’s Aid Society in the Albans-Hemingford region of Minnesota in the late 1920s. After the Byrnes kick Vivian/Niamh (called “Dorothy” at the time) out of their home, Mr. Sorenson relocates her to the home of the Grotes. He is kind and sympathetic to “Dorothy” at first, but when the Grotes mistreat her and throw her back out onto the streets, Mr. Sorenson begins blaming her for her situation.

Mr. Sorenson Quotes in Orphan Train

The Orphan Train quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Sorenson or refer to Mr. Sorenson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the William Morrow edition of Orphan Train published in 2013.
Chapter 16 Quotes

I feel myself retreating to someplace deep inside. It is a pitiful kind of childhood, to know that no one loves you or is taking care of you, to always be on the outside looking in. I feel a decade older than my years. I know too much; I have seen people at their worst, at their most desperate and selfish, and this knowledge makes me wary. So I am learning to pretend, to smile and nod, to display empathy I do not feel. I am learning to pass, to look like everyone else, even though I feel broken inside.

Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mr. Sorenson Character Timeline in Orphan Train

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Sorenson appears in Orphan Train. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 16: Albans, Minnesota, 1929-1930
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
...each of the seamstresses, leaving only Fanny and Niamh. One day, a fat man named Mr. Sorenson visits from the Children’s Aid. He is surprised to learn that the Byrnes never had... (full context)
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
On the drive to the Grotes, Niamh “almost feels sorry” for Mr. Sorenson , who seems heavy-hearted. He asks repeatedly if she is “comfortable” and takes it upon... (full context)
Chapter 17: Hemingford County, Minnesota, 1930
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
Mr. Sorenson and Niamh come to a dilapidated “shack” in the woods. A young boy, Harold, and... (full context)
Chapter 24: Hemingford County, Minnesota, 1930
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
...time. Afterward, Miss Larsen makes tea and gives Niamh a biscuit. Niamh tells her about Mr. Sorenson and Miss Larsen says she will send Mr. Post to contact him. Niamh timidly asks... (full context)
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
...call Niamh outside to the porch. Miss Larsen seems upset. Mr. Post gently explains that Mr. Sorenson isn’t sure of Niamh’s story and will need to hear it directly from her. When... (full context)
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
When Mr. Sorenson arrives, he meets with Miss Larsen and Niamh on the back porch. After Niamh finishes... (full context)
Chapter 28: Hemingford, Minnesota, 1930
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
...In the evenings, she sits with the women and listens to them talk. One day, Mr. Sorenson makes an unexpected visit, to Niamh’s dismay. He explains that his search for a placement... (full context)
Chapter 29: Hemingford, Minnesota, 1930
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
Mr. Sorenson , Miss Larsen, and Mrs. Murphy are present when the Nielsens arrive a few days... (full context)
Chapter 31: Hemingford, Minnesota, 1935-1939
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
...too close. Vivian holds onto her fear that if she becomes too unruly or burdensome, Mr. Sorenson will come and take her back. At night, she dreams she is on the orphan... (full context)