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A Little Princess

A Little Princess

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Isolation Theme

Even when she's rich Sara is already a weird kid and pretty thoughtful for her age. After she loses her wealth... well, it turns out that she has a lot more time to sit around and ponder things than she did before. (When she's not running errands and sweeping out fireplaces, that is.) Poor Sara is separated from all the other students and not allowed to attend classes or play with them. The only people she talks to each day are her few friends (who have to sneak up at night to see her), Emily her doll, and a rat that she happens to befriend. It's quite a lonely life, being a pauper in Miss Minchin's care, and it's only made more lonesome by the fact that Sara is mourning the death of her deeply beloved father. But A Little Princess asks us: is being all by yourself always bad?

Questions About Isolation

  1. What helps Sara to pass the time when she's up in that little room of hers? Does she always feel isolated?
  2. What role do characters like Becky and Ermengarde serve in the story? How do they help Sara feel companionship? What kind of comfort do they provide?
  3. When is Sara at her loneliest? What does being lonely look like, for Sara?
  4. Is Miss Minchin a lonely character? Can we blame her behavior on the fact that she's lonely?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Sara is lonely even before she is exiled from her station at the boarding school, so she's actually able to survive using the same coping mechanisms she did before.

All of the little girls at the boarding school are lonely, because their parents have abandoned them. Sara is one example, but we also see this in characters like Lottie and Ermengarde.

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