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Orphan Train Response Essay

1942 words - 8 pages

Vivian’s Journey through Life

Changes happen many times and in many ways throughout the course of someone’s life. Many times the change is easy such as switching a room with a brother of sister, but that was not the case for Vivian. Throughout the novel Vivian goes through multiple changes during her life. Many of these changes dealt with changing her name. Every times she changed her name something else also changed inside of her. Whether it was the way she looked or the way that she was treated. Throughout Christina Baker Kline’s novel, Orphan Train, every time Vivian changed her name something else also changed inside of her; such as, the roles she played with the different names
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As soon as she is on the train she starts to take care of Carmine by comforting him. “We become an odd little family, the boy—real name Hans, I learn, called Dutchy on the street—and Carmine and I in our three-seat abode” (Kline 39). This is good for Vivian because it means that she has someone to talk to and to take care of when she is on the train. It is also difficult for her because she knows that they will soon be sent off to different families. But she learns from the boys, especially Dutchy that there is always going to be somebody who cares about her. She learns that someday she will have a family to take care of on her own and that she is also capable of doing it. Her experience is not like the others on the train. She has other kids that she cares for and that care for her. Vivian had a difficult time when Dutchy and Carmine were selected by the families that took them. It was also difficult because the family that she was place in was not as loving and caring as they boys were to her on the train.
Vivian took on another role with the name Dorothy Nielson especially when she was the Byrne family. This names was given to her when she was picked from the train by the Byrne family. When she was with the Byrne family she was put on a set schedule. This schedule included her sleep hours, meal times, and when she was supposed to be sewing. This role was very different for her because she was not used to all the work labor. Every day she helped make clothes for the families business. Before the Mrs. Byrne decided to take her she said, “We are looking for a girl who is good with a needle” (Kline 71). Even before the Byrne’s took her home they told her what she would be doing for them. On the car ride back to the house the Mr. and Mrs. Byrne told her that she was going to be called Dorothy. The Byrne’s never wanted a kid they only really need a kid so that they did not have to pay someone to do the work. She was used for labor and that is it. Soon after she got to the Byrne’s the economy started to fail and Mrs. Byrne started getting rid of all of the workers. Vivian was one of the last ones to leave because they had to find her another home to go to. Once they found her another home they took her there right away.
In the Grote home her role changed back to the mother, but they still called her Dorothy. She knew going into this home that she was going to have to take care of the Grote’s kids. Before she got to the house she was told that she was going to be going to school and she was going to have to help out around the house. When they arrive back at the home Vivian is unsure about the whole situation. The family is not as welcoming as she thought they would be. “She still hasn’t said a word to me. She’s barely looked in my direction. ‘I’m just so tired,’ she says to no one in particular” (Kline 116). This shows that Mrs. Grote really does not want anything to do with her. She seems to be worried that Vivian will just be more work for...

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