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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

The Home

When the word "house" is in the name of the story, it's no surprise home is a theme. Of course, not every house is a home. The house in The House of Dies Drear might be the home of some rowdy ghost...

Memory and the Past

Virginia Hamilton said, "The past moves me and with me […]. Its light often shines on this night traveler: and when it does, I scribble it down. Whatever pleasure is in it I need pass on. Tha...

Slavery

The House of Dies Drear looks at what life might have been like for people running from slavery. A hundred years before the Smalls move into the Dies Drear house, it was a shelter for runaway slave...

Exploration

This book appeals to our sense of adventure. It has action, mystery, disguises, underground caverns, a house with hidden passageways, moving walls, and retractable front steps, not to mention treas...

Freedom and Confinement

When the Smalls first move into the Dies Drear house, they aren't sure they'll be free to enjoy it. Someone, or something, seems to want them out. The house itself is the embodiment of this theme....

Religion

Religion is very important to many of the characters in The House of Dies Drear. It's where they connect with others and where they take part in community activities. For other characters, the chur...

The Supernatural

The House of Dies Drear features a house that may or may not be haunted. Some of the characters believe in ghosts; some of them don't. Some aren't sure. Virginia Hamilton, the author, seems to invi...

Appearances

When Thomas Small moves into what may or may not be a haunted house, nothing is as it appears. Behind the walls and under the floors are secret passages, and all the people in the neighborhood seem...
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