The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by

Ann Shaffer

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: Part 1: 10 Mar, 1946 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Eben responds to Juliet. He explains that Eli is his daughter Jane's son, but Jane and her newborn baby died in the hospital when the Germans bombed the island. Eli's father died in north Africa during the war. Eli left the island with thousands of other children. Eben received postcards about Eli and though he hated to do it, he sent Eli postcards with news of his parents' deaths. When the war ended, all the children came home together. Eli's "parents" during his time away sent him home with a letter telling Eben about all the things he missed. Now, Eli helps on the farm and is learning to carve wood. There's little wood to practice with as the islanders cut down most of the trees for firewood, but they're planting more.
The very fact that children like Eli were cared for so kindly by families in Europe reinforces the novel's assertion that people don't need to be blood relations in order to care for others. Eli's family in England clearly recognized that having to send Eli away was very difficult for his parents, hence the letter. In doing this, they show that they respect the ties that Eli has to his birth family and to Guernsey—they don't want to take that away from him—and instead, want to be part of Eli's wide extended chosen family.
Themes
Family, Parenting, and Legitimacy Theme Icon
Eben explains that the Germans were particular about farm animals and kept strict count of live animals, milk production, and fish. When a litter of piglets was born, an officer would count them all. If a piglet died, a farmer was given a death certificate. Amelia got her pig from Will Thisbee. One of Will's pigs died, so he got the death certificate and then took the body to Amelia. She hid one of her live pigs and called the officer to deal with "her" dead pig. They passed the carcass around until it began to stink. Amelia called Dawsey to kill the pig because he has a way with the creatures and can kill them quietly.
It's worth noting that hiding pigs like this was likely very dangerous; this indicates that because the people of Guernsey were so hungry, they were willing to take risks to get food that they wouldn't normally. It increases the sense of desperation surrounding food in the novel and reminds the reader that everyone, islanders and Germans alike, was hungry.
Themes
War, Hunger, and Humanity Theme Icon
The feast was magnificent, and Eben says that Elizabeth was brave. He says that Elizabeth and Jane became friends when they were girls. In 1940, Elizabeth stayed on the island to be with Jane, who was on bed rest for her pregnancy. Elizabeth played with Eli until they evacuated the children, and she's the one who got Eli ready to go and sent him off. Then, she and Eben sat by Jane until Jane and the baby died. Together, she and Eben watched the bombs fall, thankful that Eli was away. Now, Eben is glad to care for Kit in Elizabeth's absence.
The way that Eben frames it, he feels that caring for Kit in the present is how he can continue to show Elizabeth that he values her connection to his blood family and will treat her daughter like family. Elizabeth demonstrates her skill at leading others when she sends Eli off for Jane; it's an early example of Elizabeth's ability to make people feel safe and secure.
Themes
Family, Parenting, and Legitimacy Theme Icon
War, Hunger, and Humanity Theme Icon