The Mill on the Floss
How we cite our quotes:
Life did change for Tom and Maggie; and yet they were not wrong in believing that the thought and loves of these first years would always make part of their lives. We could never have loved the earth so well if we had no childhood in it [...] (1.5.78)
Memory and the past are very closely tied to themes of home in this novel. Basically, home is home for certain characters because they have memories, or have had "childhoods," in that home. Tom and Maggie thus have a strong emotional tie to the mill because they grew up there.
He felt the strain of this clinging affection for the old home as part of his life part of himself. He couldn’t bear to think of himself living on any other spot than this, where he knew the sound of every gate and door [...] (3.9.2)
Mr. Tulliver is here feels that his entire identity is rooted in his home. His home is where he can really be himself fully.
Our instructed vagrancy which has hardly time to linger by the hedgerows, but runs away early to the tropics and is at home with palms and banyans, - which is nourished on books of travel and stretches the theatre of its imagination to the Zambesi can hardly get a dim notion of what an old-fashioned man like Tulliver felt for this spot where all his memories centered and where life seemed like a smooth-handled tool that the fingers clutch with loving ease. (3.9.2)
Eliot here is discussing the British Empire, and how so many people now move very far away from their birthplace and are "instructed" in being nomads and travelers. Tulliver, meanwhile, takes solace in the familiarity of his home. Intriguingly, Eliot’s words are still largely applicable today.