Study Guide

Here Be Monsters! An Adventure Involving Magic, Trolls, and Other Creatures; The Ratbridge Chronicles Volume 1 Family

By Alan Snow

Family

"Oh… he's not my real grandfather; he just found me abandoned on the steps of the poorhouse, when I was a baby, and took me to live with him. He's raised me like he is my father, but because he's so much older than my father would be, I call him 'Grandfather.'" (5.56)

This is Arthur's account of his relationship to Grandfather. Yeah, yeah, the guy's not actually his grandfather… but family is more than blood ties, ya hear? Like, how many people do you know who would take in an abandoned infant and raise it with love and compassion? Anyone who does that is family, period.

Arthur decided to tell Willbury all. "I was gathering food." His face grew red, but he continued. "It's the only way we can survive. My grandfather is so frail now that I have to do it." (5.62)

Here's an example of the lengths Arthur will go to for his family: He's willing to steal. It's not pretty, but it's true. And really, Grandfather took care of Arthur when no one else would, so Arthur's obligated to do the same for Grandfather. Even if means a less-than-ideal way of gathering food.

"Well, I suggest you speak to your grandfather right now to let him know you are all right and that you are here," Willbury insisted. (5.73)

We don't know anything about Willbury's bio-family, but clearly he's been on this earth long enough to know that family members get worried when other members don't check in during dangerous or tense times. So we give Willbury props for insisting that Arthur get in touch with Grandfather to tell him that he's doing okay in this situation.

"That sea-cow has three calves. A few days ago she left them here to play while she went off to forage in the canal. When she returned, the calves were gone, and the tunnel blocked." (9.19)

Whoa, bummer. Even though sea-cows basically seem like manatees or small whales, they still have some concept of family, so it's terrible that the mother sea-cow went to forage for food to feed her calves, and when she returned they were gone. Who would do such a dastardly deed like splitting up a family? (Hint: Probably Snatcher.)

"Pack up your things, Marjorie! The Head Patent Officer, Mr. Louis Trout, has taken early retirement and gone off to set up a new business with his son… the man who disappeared with your invention!" (14.87)

Seems like dishonesty runs in the blood for the Trouts. Of course, if they're associating with Snatcher, we don't have a very high opinion of their moral character. But flat-out stealing another person's idea is pretty low.

"About a week after Framley disappeared, they went shopping and never came back. We miss them….Pickles is my brother," the captain said, his voice cracking. (16.63)

Even rats have families in the world of Ratbridge. The captain of the Ratbridge Nautical Laundry is especially concerned about finding their missing crewmates since one of them is his brother, but we get the impression that the whole crew is rather family-like. Except for Framley. He was so nasty that no one's really that sad to see him gone.

"We do have to be so careful as we have a problem with trotting badgers. Last month someone left this door open, and Madeline's stepparents were eaten. It was very upsetting," said Coco. (36.40)

The rabbit women apparently really do consider the rabbits to be their parents, if we judge by this statement from Coco (one of the rabbit women). And yeah, we can see where it'd be upsetting if a trotting badger entered your home and ate a family member. It makes us wonder what kind of funerals the rabbit women hold for their rabbit family.

"What they didn't realize was that as the pollution got worse, making cheese oil was concentrating the poisons. Finally they got sued—their cheese poisoned the Duchess of Snookworth, and it was her husband who got the ban brought in. Archibald's dad lost his fortune and couldn't afford to have dear Archibald privately tutored anymore." (39.24)

This anecdote from Grandfather has a multipronged connection to family. It was family connections that got the cheese barons banned from making cheese anymore, thanks to a husband with high status who followed up when his wife was poisoned by the faulty cheese-making practices. And this, in turn, affected Snatcher, turning him into the villain he is today, because his family lost their fortune and he's had a chip on his shoulder about it ever since.

With the armor swaying in the air, the crane moved toward the Great One.

"Careful now, Gristle; we don't want to hurt baby." (48.4-5)

This statement from Snatcher is rather odd. He doesn't seem like a caring type of guy, but he has latched onto Framley (a.k.a. the Great One) as his baby in some sense of the word. Why is an elephant-sized rat like a baby? We don't know the punch line to that one, sorry. Maybe Framley is Snatcher's brainchild in some way, or maybe Snatcher is just really attached to this particular science experiment.

There were the mother freshwater sea-cow and her size-restored calves, feeding on the weeds that Willbury and Grandfather had been throwing in. (55.99)

We think it's fitting that the book ends with this image of a family reunited. The calves have been restored to their normal size, and now they're back with their mother. Arthur and Grandfather are also reunited, and in a sense, their family has expanded to include Willbury, Herbert, the boxtrolls, and more. Having an extended family/friend network of people who care about you is never a bad thing.

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