Borrowers don't like humans, humans don't like borrowers, and "borrowing" in one world is "stealing" in the other. Ugh. Can't we all just get along? The inability of big and little people to get past differences ruffles a lot of feathers in The Borrowers, and those who struggle to overcome them mature into more developed characters. So hey, at least it's worth the trouble.
Mrs. Driver's actions (taking handkerchiefs, wine, and other such things) are no different from what the Borrowers do, so she should probably get a life and stop bugging 'em.
Mrs. Driver's actions are worse than what the Borrowers do; she is actually stealing.
Arrietty lives for freedom. She craves it the way Shmoop craves burritos (which is to say, a lot). But the weird thing is, when freedom is mentioned in The Borrowers, it often sounds like a bad thing—a dangerous thing. At least, that's what the adults in the novel would have the youngsters like the boy and Arrietty believe. But the thirst for freedom just can't be quenched, as Arrietty and the boy long for both physical and imaginative varieties.
Pod's so stinkin' selfish. He makes his wife and child live sheltered lives underground, and never allows them to know what it is like upstairs.
Not so. Pod's totally selfless, because he risks his own neck to bring his wife what she wants, even if it's as useless as a teacup.
We're all familiar with the typical factors that determine class—money, education, background, yadda yadda yadda. But what about whether you live over the mantle, behind the harpsichord, or under a clock? In The Borrowers, where your family lives matters more than just about anything else when it comes to figuring out where you fall on the social hierarchy. But as some of our characters soon realize, your class doesn't really say much of anything at all about who you truly are.
The class system the borrowers use is yet another example of their prejudice.
Homily is herself stuck-up, and is "house-proud." So she should probably stop complaining about everyone else being snobby.
Kids get a bad rap. Adults think they are lazy or stubborn or, worse, naughty, and in a fight between parents and children, the parents almost always win. Totally unfair, right. Right. And The Borrowers doesn't do much to change that dynamic. Throughout most of the novel, youth is cast in a negative light—Mrs. Driver and Homily call kids like Arrietty, the boy, and even the young policeman named Ernie "wicked," "nasty," and "no-good," and most of the time the kids can't answer back. But in the end, the kiddos save the day, so really, who's on top?
Adults have more power in this novel. They tell the kids what to do, and even get to tell the story (we're looking at you Mrs. May!).
Youths have more power in this novel. Although the adults tell them what to do, the kids choose whether or not to obey, and they set everything in motion.
There's a whole boatload of things to be afraid of in The Borrowers. Giant eyeballs, rat poison, cats, mean people, and, of course, the unknown. But the biggest thing to fear in this novel seems to be fear itself, because fear is what keeps our characters trapped in their own small worlds. The bravest characters are the ones who are able to think outside the box, and dare to dream of something different.
Having a healthy sense of fear is a good thing in The Borrowers because it prevents characters from making reckless choices and taking dangerous risks.
Fear is a bad news in The Borrowers because it clouds characters' minds and limits their freedom.
Growing pains are… well… a pain. But they're a normal part of growing up. And once a character emerges from his or her cocoon to become a butterfly, it all seems worth it. Arrietty seems to do the most growing up in The Borrowers, although characters like the boy, and even her parents, have some maturing to do, too. Along the way, characters learn to make decisions for themselves, thanks to some tough new experiences that shove them along the path to adulthood.
Growing up means leaving prejudice behind in The Borrowers.
Growing up means gaining independence in The Borrowers.
You've probably heard of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. You know, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Temple of Artemis… the list goes on. But for Arrietty and the other borrowers, the leg of a chair is as big as the Colossus of Rhodes, and a little patch of grass is as awe-inspiring as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. As our tiny protagonists are awestruck by everyday objects, we realize that normal is relative; in The Borrowers, there's more than one way of viewing the world.
Arrietty is the most awestruck of all the characters because she's the most open-minded.
Kate is the most awestruck because she's so amazed, she won't let Mrs. May stop telling the story.
Do you believe in magic? More importantly, don't you want to? There's a part of all of us that, despite evidence to the contrary, still want to see magicians pull rabbits out of hats and believe that crazy, impossible things can be true. It's not too hard a job for characters in The Borrowers to believe, what with all the tiny folks running around, but there's magic and mystery right and left in this novel, and some things that defy belief altogether—the tale itself. Do the borrowers really exist?
Mrs. May's brother made up the entire story of the borrowers because he wanted his sisters to believe the extraordinary.
Mrs. May made up the story of the borrowers so that Kate would believe the extraordinary.