At the beginning of A Little Princess, Sara really does look like a little princess. She has all the toys and clothes she could want (we're thinking Suri Cruise's wardrobe), she's paraded around as the "star pupil," and she has her own playroom at the boarding school—not to mention her very own maid. But when fate befalls her, she undergoes a rather unpleasant transformation into a penniless little girl. Luckily, this bit of really bad luck also begins the interesting part of the story, as we watch Sara transform and grow.
Through her experience with poverty, Sara actually becomes more princess-like in the way that she thinks and behaves.
At the end, Mr. Carrisford undergoes a physical transformation to health, but he also undergoes a transformation in Sara's mind—she no longer sees him as her father's evil friend.