How does Willie's arrival change Tom?
Willie's arrival does not change Tom but it does change him back to being the person he was before his wife and child died. Before Willie arrived, Tom had no reason to comply with the instructions for the preparation for war but after Willie arrived he felt an obligation to keep him safe and so built a bomb shelter in the back yard and purchased gas masks. He also became more involved with village life again having largely kept to himself since Rachel passed away, Willie is very interested in drawing and painting which forces Tom to confront his fear of going inside the art store, which actually turns out to be a cathartic and strangely comforting experience. After Rachel, Tom closes himself off from any deep connection with others and having Willie living with him, and developing a very strong bond with him, forces Tom to allow himself to get attached to someone else again.
How is Carrie's mother perpetuating the role of women in her dealing with Carrie's attending high school?
Women have been traditionally confined to home-making and non-leadership roles especially in a little village like Weirwold. Carrie's acceptance into the prestigious high school in town is extremely impressive and something to be very proud of, but Carrie's mother resents her daughter spending time studying or reading books because she feels it is fine that could be spent doing chores. Putting education on a level with learning how to do chores properly is setting a low bar for her daughter in terms of future prospects. She also feels that Carrie needs to learn how to do chores so that she will be able to do them well when she is married. Carrie does not want to get married for precisely this reason. Her mother's view of her education is definitely holding back her daughter in terms of being something more but this is also why she feels Carrie is getting too many big ideas by associating with girls who cone from a less stereotyped background.
How does this book show the different results of nature versus nurture when it comes to bringing up children?
Willie is brutally abused by his mother and brought up to believe that he has no talents or skills and that everyone dislikes him. As he is bullied at school there is nothing in his life to contradict what she tells him. If Willie had stayed in that environment he would most likely have never finished school and gone through his adult life illiterate and friendless with no self esteem or confidence. Living with Tom Oakley he learns that he is not universally disliked after all and makes friends. He also attends a school with caring educators who take the time to find out that he cannot read or write but encourage him without making him feel stupid or worthless. This love and encouragement also gives him the confidence to try new things such as acting and singing in the choir, showing himself to have a great deal of talent. When he is nurtured he blossoms yet having the same nature in his home environment in London and not being nurtured led to a lonely life of fear and unhappiness.
How does the author teach the reader about wartime England and its impact on the English people?
The author cleverly uses the historical events as major plot lines in the novel. Willie is evacuated because London was too dangerous with its threat of bombing raids, and this is emphasized both when Tom goes to find him and cannot believe the difference between the city and the country, and also when Zach and his family are killed in the worst bombing raid of the war this far. Building an Anderson shelter is a bonding experience for Tom and Willie but also a necessary part of the war effort for the people at the time. The war meant that men were called up to fight, and often killed on action, such as George's brother; the men who did return home, such as Geoffrey, were often not the same as when they left. With each event that happens in the novel the author cleverly tells the reader more about wartime England and the lives of those living through it.
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