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Characters

Character Clues

Character Analysis

Actions

Mrs. Garner is kind. Mrs. Garner is stern. And the Government is all sorts of controlling. How do we know this? Because even Jen realizes that "Action's the only thing that counts" (22.58). Luke's mom is constantly loving and gentle and reassuring to Luke. Contrary to his wife, Mr. Garner is harsh and strict with Luke, quick to yell at him for not hiding and basically being a little scary.

Apart from the family, the actions of the Government are enough evidence to label them as restrictive and manipulative. They're the reasons the Garner have to sell the woods and are routinely told "how much corn to plant, which fertilizer to use, and where to take their crop when it was harvested" (5.3).

Oh, and there's also that whole law dictating how many kids each family is allowed to have. Way harsh.

Clothing

Luke and Jen are both shadow children, but they don't have much else in common—like status. Haddix helps us see that by placing a ton of emphasis on clothing. In the words of Luke's father and brothers, the Barons' fashion consisted of "sissy clothes" or more specifically "shiny shoes and clean, dressy pants and jackets" (7.4). (Uh, shiny we can kind of understand, but clean? What's wrong with clean pants?)

Anyway, these shiny, clean clothes offer quite the contrast from Luke's "ragged flannel shirt and patched jeans" (16.46). To really drive the point home, when Luke Garner becomes Lee Grant, he gets an Extreme Makeover: Baron Edition. While Luke got "hand-me-down" clothes, Lee struts the runway in "crisp new trousers" (30.2). Sweet. Sounds like only Barons get irons.

Names

We already know Luke's first name is a reference to the Gospel of Luke and that his brothers, Mathew and Mark, also come from their respective Gospels. (Check out "Symbols: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John" for more about that.) But even the family surname seems meaningful, since it could have historically been use for someone who lives near a barn or cultivated grain. Lo and behold, that's exactly where Luke lives.

But what's way cooler is Jen's last name. Essentially, Talbot has origins which mean "messenger of destruction"

And now for Lee Grant, Luke's new name. Two very famous people are referenced in Luke's pseudonym: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. Remember them? (Well, not literally.) Two guys on opposite sides of the same war, just like Luke. Baron on the outside, but 100% shadow child on the inside.

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