How we cite our quotes:
But my brother said that, underneath, he thought they were frightened. It was because they were frightened, he thought, that they had grown so small. Each generation had become smaller and smaller, and more and more hidden. In the olden days, it seems, and in some parts of England, our ancestors talked quite openly about the "little people." (1.46)
Do you buy Mrs. May's brother's theory? That borrowers are tiny because they're terrified? It sounds like a promising idea, because fear certainly does make people feel small. And it might also account for the borrowers' arrogance. Maybe they're overcompensating.
"Not that I'm afraid of mice," Homily would say, "but I can't abide the smell." (2.1)
Has anyone you know (or you yourself) ever said something like: "I'm totally not scared of seeing that movie, it's just really important that I feed my goldfish." Yeah, dudes, real convincing. That's exactly what Homily sounds like here. She says she's not afraid of mice, and uses the smell as an excuse. The same way Homily tells us she's totally not scared of mice, we know she is completely petrified. But she's not the only one in the novel to make excuses for her fears…
"Don't speak like that of borrowing. You don't know—and, thank goodness, you never will know"—she dropped her voice to a fearful whisper—"what it's like upstairs…" (3.25)
Oooh spooky. Homily's warning to Arrietty has all the makings of a good ghost story. She gives no real reason for her daughter to be scared, but she's trying to freak her out all the same.