Study Guide

The Invention of Hugo Cabret Family

By Brian Selznick

Family

Hugo was good with clocks, too. The talent ran in the family. Hugo’s father had always brought home broken clocks for his son to play with, and by the time he was six, Hugo was able to fix just about anything. (1.5.20)

Hugo’s just like his father, who he looks up to more than anything. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and in this case, the cog doesn’t fall far from the clock.

“Your father’s dead, and as your only living relative, I’m taking you in.” (1.5.34)

Wow, that’s comforting. Hugo’s going to be taken in by his only living relative, an alcoholic thief who wants him to quit school in order to apprentice with him? This is really one of those situations where family might not have your best interests at heart. Too bad Hugo doesn't have much of a choice.

“No. The only thing I’ll say is that I need to protect my husband. And the best way for me to do that is just to forget about all this…” (2.1.63)

Mama Jeanne may love and miss Papa Georges’s past as much as he does, but she’s willing to bury everything in order to protect her husband. While she may have his best interests at heart, by the end of the book, it's pretty clear that her husband needs just the opposite of protecting.

“He must like you,” Isabelle said. “In his dresser at home he has all the drawings I made him when I was little.” (2.6.16)

Shmoopers, this is quite possibly the cutest moment in the book. Or at least it's top five. Even though Papa Georges is all grumpy and accuses Hugo of being a good-for-nothing thief, he is still fond of the boy. In fact, he treats him kind of the same way he treats Isabelle, like a family member, and one he's proud of, no less.

“[…] But their baby daughter survived.”

“Me?” said Isabelle.

“You.” (2.8.12-14)

Isabelle has never known her parents, and this is a huge revelation to her. Wow! Now she knows why she loves movies so much (her parents made them) and she knows the story of how she came to live with her current family.

“You were the only bright spot in a very dark world. I made my wife promise she would never talk about my movies again.” (2.8.16)

Family really does help you move on when the going gets tough. Even though Papa Georges’s life fell apart, he had to keep going in order to take care of his wife and Isabelle. We can't imagine where he'd be now without them.

He helped Hugo stand. The children were enveloped by the soft folds of the old man’s cape, and together they all headed home. (2.10.27)

When Hugo is most in need of an adult family member in his life, Papa Georges (in true magician form) swoops in and snatches him away from the grubby Station Inspector’s fingers. He takes him home. And a single tear falls from Shmoop's eye.

The French Film Academy, through the intervention of Rene Tabard, arranged for money to be given to the Méliès family, and some of that money went into furnishing Hugo’s room. (2.11.2)

In the end, Hugo does get a nice family and a comfortable, normal kid kind of life. He goes to school, has friends, and best of all has a home to come back to (that’s not an apartment in the train station).

“You painted that picture, Papa Georges?” said Hugo, amazed. (2.11.10)

In the span of six months, he’s apparently also picked up on calling the old man “Papa Georges.” Pretty adorable, no?

It can tell you the incredible story of Georges Méliès, his wife, their goddaughter, and a beloved clock maker whose son grew up to be a magician. (2.12.8)

The whole story is one of how their family comes together… and also all that other stuff about robots and movies and stealing things, too.