Study Guide

Homecoming Tone

By Cynthia Voigt

Tone

Compassionate

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 mom's disappearance:

Momma must 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.) (1.1.39)

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.

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