The House of Dies Drear
by Virginia Hamilton
The Treasure of Dies Drear
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
You might think of this story as a treasure hunt that has lasted over a hundred years. This hunt broke apart the Skinner family, turned the Darrows into maniacs, and destroyed the friendship of River Swift Darrow and Mr. Skinner/Mr. Pluto. But, it has also brought together Mr. Skinner his son, as well as the Skinners and the Smalls. The treasure means different things for different people at different times. As we discuss in Mayhew's "Character Analysis," he got mad when he learned his father found the treasure. He wishes his father had sold Drear's antiques and used the money to bail him and his mother out of poverty.
Similarly, the Darrows see the treasure as an escape from poverty. For Mr. Small and Mr. Pluto, the treasure is a doorway to the past. The treasure includes items that go back at least to the 1600s. There's tons of stuff: glassware, rugs, clothing, furniture, carvings, and other works of art. The treasure trove also includes ledgers and account books detailing the buying and selling of slaves. If the treasure interests you, you'll want to read the beginning of Chapter 14 carefully.
For Mr. Pluto and Mr. Small, the treasure is something to be preserved and protected so future generations can study it and understand the past. Mayhew seems to be moving over to that way of thinking too. So, what do you think? Should the treasure be preserved as history, or should it be sold to help feed hungry people. Is it possible that it could be used for both? If so, how?