Orphan Train

Orphan Train

Sarah Dunnell/ “May” Character Analysis

Sarah is the biological child Vivian/Niamh has with her first husband, Dutchy. At birth, Vivian/Niamh names her daughter “May” after her sister, Maisie, who shares Sarah’s blonde hair. Sarah’s biological father, Dutchy, dies in battle while Vivian/Niamh is pregnant with Sarah. Overwhelmed by grief, Vivian/Niamh gives her daughter up for adoption. Sarah then grows up wondering about her birth mother’s identity and story. She becomes a successful musician and music teacher, has children and grandchildren, and lives in North Dakota. At the age of sixty-eight, she meets her birth mother for the first time. She is the grandmother of Becca.

Sarah Dunnell/ “May” Quotes in Orphan Train

The Orphan Train quotes below are all either spoken by Sarah Dunnell/ “May” or refer to Sarah Dunnell/ “May”. 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 1 Quotes

Lying in that hospital bed I feel all of it: the terrible weight of sorrow, the crumbling of my dreams. I sob uncontrollably for all that I’ve lost – the love of my life, my family, a future I’d dared to envision. And in that moment I make a decision. I can’t go through this again. I can’t give myself to someone so completely only to lose them. I don’t want, ever again, to experience the loss of someone I love beyond reason.

Related Characters: Vivian Daly / Niamh Power / “Dorothy” (speaker), Dutchy / Hans / Luke Maynard, Sarah Dunnell/ “May”
Page Number: 246-247
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Orphan Train quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

Molly touches Vivian’s shoulder, frail and bony under her thin silk cardigan. She half turns, half smiles, her eyes brimming with tears. Her hand flutters to her clavicle, to the silver chain around her neck, the claddagh charm – those tiny hands clasping a crowned heart: love, loyalty, friendship – a never-ending path that leads away from home and circles back.

Related Characters: Molly Ayer, Vivian Daly / Niamh Power / “Dorothy”, Sarah Dunnell/ “May”
Related Symbols: The Claddagh Cross / Vivian’s Necklace
Page Number: 273
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occ

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire Orphan Train LitChart as a printable PDF.
Orphan train.pdf.medium

Sarah Dunnell/ “May” Character Timeline in Orphan Train

The timeline below shows where the character Sarah Dunnell/ “May” appears in Orphan Train. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 36: Hemingford, Minnesota, 1940-1943
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
...comes to the store. He reads Vivian and her parents a telegram, announcing that “Luke Maynard” was “killed in action.” Vivian puts her hand over her stomach to touch “the baby... (full context)
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
...She pushes the baby out. The little girl has blonde hair. She says the name “May” into her baby’s ear, and thinks of how her baby, like she herself, is “the... (full context)
Chapter 37: Spruce Harbor, Maine, 2011
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
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... (full context)
Chapter 39: Spruce Harbor, Maine, 2011
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
...Molly, with a face “unguarded and full of longing,” to help her find her daughter, May. (full context)
Chapter 40: Spruce Harbor, Maine, 2011
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
...to find her birth mother. They give Vivian the name and number of the woman, Sarah Dunnell. Vivian calls Sarah, who immediately books a flight to visit her, bringing along her... (full context)
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 day of Sarah and her family’s arrival, Jack goes to pick them up from the airport. Sitting by... (full context)