Ellen Foster is the compelling story of a young girl who is thrust into
reality at a very early age. Written by Kaye Gibbons, the novel is a
documentary of the saga of growing up. It is a recurring theme, growing
up, depicted through many events over the course of this girl^s
childhood. This growing up theme is evident through the experiences she
has, as well as the many hardships she faces.
Ellen^s awkward situation of two dead parents forces her to lose her
innocence at a young age, and mature much faster than any other person
her age. This is shown through her in-depth observations about the
world and people around her, such as ^He was a big wind up doll of a
man.^ This metaphor depicts her father, a lazy drunk who dies early in
the book, probably from alcohol poisoning. Her life with him is one of
constant fear and hatred. She blames him for the death of her mother,
who overdoses on heart medicine to escape from her life. His drinking
habits take over his life, and Ellen is left at home alone, sometimes
for days at a time, to fend for herself. This is only one of the many
hardships she must face. After her father^s death, Ellen is forced to
move from house to house. She is miserable in all of them, but they are
still better than what she had to put up with before. When she finally
does reach a house which she likes, her aunt Betsy kicks her out after
the weekend, telling her that Ellen was only meant to visit for two
days. The torment she receives is not limited to her father. Relatives
like her aunt Nadine, who blames everything her daughter Dora does on
Ellen, instead of paying her the attention and love she needs, toss her
around like an Christmas fruitcake no one wants. These events, though
somewhat exaggerated in Ellen^s life, are all a part of growing up.
Unbearable parents, relatives you can^t stand, being betrayed by
someone you care about, they are all part of life, and life lessons.
Equally important in growing up are friendship, prejudice, and
death, all of which are present in the childhood of Ellen
Foster. Her friendship with a black girl named Starletta is a subject
of much controversy. Not...