A Tale of Two Orphans

Everyone, from my college advisor on down, will tell you I love tales with orphan heroes.  You name them: Oliver Twist, Harry Potter, Tensy Farlow, the Baudelaire children, I fell in love with each and every one of those books. (Well, I hated the ending of the Baudelaire series, but that’s another story.)  The thing is, there are orphans and then there are orphans and they aren’t really alike.  To explain what I mean, look at one of the most famous kid books to come out of the 19th century: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. You can’t get past the first page without learning Tom’s parental status. Aunt Polly’s first soliloquy says, “he’s my own sister’s boy, poor thing, and I ain’t got the heart to lash him.”  So, Tom is an orphan but he doesn’t really fit the mold.  Orphan heroes are usually vulnerable kids who miss the love and security of a stable home.  They tend to grow up fast because they have to and any tendency toward mischief has been knocked right out of them.  Can you think of anyone less like that than Tom Sawyer? Tom and his siblings may be orphans but they’ve never lacked…

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