As you read through Homecoming,
it's hard not to feel sorrow and empathy for the poor Tillerman kids. Their
parents have both abandoned them and they don't really have anyone to turn to
for help. Seriously, we're getting a little teary eyed just thinking of it—and
the tone of the book makes sure of this. Just look at Dicey mulling over their
have gone away on purpose. (But she loved them, loved them all.) Why else the
addresses on the bags? Why else tell them to mind Dicey? (Mothers didn't do
things like going off. It was crazy. Was Momma crazy?) How did she expect Dicey
to take care of them? What did she expect Dicey to do? Take them to Bridgeport,
of course. (Dump it all on Dicey, that was what Momma did.)
We feel Dicey struggling to make sense of this abandonment, and
sympathy rises in us as we recognize her dueling need to believe her mom loves
them while also resenting her mom a bit for leaving her suddenly in charge of
all the kids.
Importantly, Cynthia Voigt is careful not to make the
Tillermans' journey into a series of really sad Hallmark cards. We're not
supposed to pity the Tillermans, like Cousin Eunice does—we should feel for
them and identify with them as human beings. What would any of us do in the
same situation? Our compassion for and connection to the main characters helps
us root for them in their journey toward a real and true home of their own.
Good luck, guys.