Study Guide

Violet Alden in The Boxcar Children

Violet Alden

Violet is a sort of shadow Jessie, doing whatever cooking and cleaning her big sister can't manage. The younger Alden siblings are less developed characters than their big brother and sister, and in a sense, Violet's most important role is as a plot device: Her illness at the end of the book brings her family together. Henry and Jessie are great at playing house, but Violet's illness punctures the fantasy. Violet never says anything directly, but her sickness is a reality check. She's like, Real talk: I am a child who needs an adult to take care of me—except instead of saying as much, she just shivers.

Game-changing illness aside, there are a few personality traits that set Violet apart. For one thing, she's very good with Benny—better than both Jessie and Henry. When Henry tries to wake Benny at the beginning of the book, for example, he's not very successful. Violet turns it into a game, though—"play that you are a little brown bear and are running away to find a nice warm bed" (2.10)—and Benny happily plays along. Later, she tries the same trick when it's time to wash up:

"That will be fun, Benny," said Violet. "We'll splash our 'paws' in the brook just as Little Brown Bear does." She knew that Benny did not like to be washed. (4.58)

Clever girl.

If it's humanly possible, Violet seems even more positive than the other Aldens—she's always ready to make the best of a bad situation. When the children are cowering in the boxcar during a storm, she says, "What a good place this is! It is just like a warm little house with one room" (3.19). And later, when Jessie wishes they had dishes, Violet says, "Never mind. When Henry comes, we can eat some blueberries and then take a drink of milk" (4.29). Good old Violet is the unsung hero of the group, always raising people's spirits and keeping them on task.