Study Guide

A Little Princess Quotes

  • Isolation

    Chapter 1

    And upstairs in the locked room Sara and Emily sat on the floor and stared at the corner round which the cab had disappeared, while Captain Crewe looked backward, waving and kissing his hand as if he could not bear to stop. (1.72)

    When her papa leaves her at the boarding school in gloomy old London, Sara is left with only Emily, who is—no offense--not exactly an actual human being. And we're a little creeped out that this narrator is talking about Emily like she is a human, to be honest.

    Chapter 7
    Sara Crewe

    In fact, she herself scarcely remembered anything but that she walked up and down, saying over and over again to herself in a voice which did not seem her own, "My papa is dead! My papa is dead!" (7.155)

    Well, this isn't depressing at all. Sara doesn't even have a friend to talk to about her loss, so she's left talking to herself. Someone get this girl a grief counselor, STAT.

    Chapter 8

    Miss Minchin made it so easy that at last they scarcely saw each other at all. (8.40)

    When Sara is at her lowest point, Miss Minchin makes it her special, personal goal to separate the little girl from her friends even more. Nice lady.

    "She is like the others," she had thought. "She does not really want to talk to me. She knows no one does." (8.37)

    It's pretty mean (and messed up) of all the other girls to start ignoring Sara once she's dressed poorly, but at least we find out that Ermengarde isn't going to be like that. So, that's one friend, at least.

    Chapter 9
    Sara Crewe

    "It's a lonely place," she said. "Sometimes it's the loneliest place in the world." (9.38)

    Even though Sara tries to keep a stiff upper lip (yes, very British of her), she still can't help admitting it sometimes—her situation is kind of a bummer.

    Chapter 10

    So their visits were rare ones, and Sara lived a strange and lonely life. (10.1)

    Even with her friends, Sara has a bleak social life. Her iPhone has no new messages. Her email inbox is empty. Her Facebook newsfeed is silent. Her … you get the idea. When most tween girls would be texting 200 messages a day, Sara is totally alone.

    There had grown in her mind rather a strange feeling about Emily, who always sat and looked on at everything. It arose in one of her moments of great desolateness. (10.26)

    True fact: dolls don't make good companions, because they can't talk back to you or commiserate or even give you a friendly pat on the back. Nice try, though. This passage really drives home how lonely Sara is.

    Chapter 11

    As Sara looked toward him he looked toward her. The first thing she thought was that his dark face looked sorrowful and homesick. (11.6)

    Sara is so lonesome that she will make friends with anyone, even the monkey from next door. And notice how she assigns the monkey the exact same feelings that she herself has: they're both foreign creatures living alone in a strange city.

    Chapter 18

    Glad as she was for Sara's sake, she went up the last flight of stairs with a lump in her throat and tears blurring her sight. There would be no fire tonight, and no rosy lamp; no supper, and no princess sitting in the glow reading or telling stories—no princess! (18.106)

    Ugh, this is just the worst. Good for Becky for trying to be happy for her friend, but it's hard when it means she'll be alone now. Luckily, Sara isn't going to forget what it feels like to be alone.

    Lottie

    "I want to go there," she cried. "I—I haven't any mamma in this school." (4.49)

    That's an incredibly effective way to get what you want, Lottie. Wear that motherlessness badge proudly.

  • Courage

    Chapter 1
    Sara Crewe

    "I don't like it, papa," she said. "But then I dare say soldiers—even brave ones—don't really LIKE going into battle." (1.20)

    Sara wouldn't be the first kid to compare going to school to the horrors of war, but she's going to keep that little chin of hers up—and face Miss Minchin's school even it if does seem horrible.

    Chapter 9

    She had sat so quietly that the rat had begun to take courage. (9.42)

    Everyone has fears to conquer—even the rat in the corner of the attic. We're actually starting to think Melchisedec sounds like of cute.

    Sara Crewe

    "Beggars have nowhere to live," she said courageously. "I have a place to live in." (9.4)

    Sara has to stay brave for Lottie; otherwise she'd probably just start crying again (like usual). This is a good example of how Sara believes that princesses have to set … good examples.

    Chapter 11
    Sara Crewe

    "I was thinking," she answered grandly and politely, "that you did not know what you were doing." (11.37)

    It takes some guts to stand up to Miss Minchin, who punishes Sara with horrible things like not giving her anything to eat for whole days. But Sara has too much courage to lie.

    Chapter 13

    "She is hungrier than I am," she said to herself. "She's starving." But her hand trembled when she put down the fourth bun. "I'm not starving," she said—and she put down the fifth. (13.58)

    Talk about courage. Standing up to Miss Minchin is one thing, but actually giving away food that you could scarf down in a heartbeat—that's a totally different kind of courage.

    Chapter 15
    Sara Crewe

    "I always was a thin child," she said bravely," and I always had big green eyes." (15.73)

    Sara doesn't want to admit to just how starved and miserable she is. Why? Maybe because saying it would make it true—like telling the wrong kind of story about herself.

    "I didn't want you to know," Sara said. "It would have made me feel like a street beggar. I know I look like a street beggar." (15.104)

    For Ermengarde's sake, Sara keeps it together, even when her life is utterly depressing. She's like a leader putting on a brave face so her subjects don't panic.

    Chapter 16

    The comfort and happiness she enjoyed were making her stronger, and she had them always to look forward to. (16.54)

    Thanks to the magical elves who trick her room out at night, Sara can soldier on through her everyday life. It's a lot easier to be courageous when you're warm and well-fed; that's just biology.

    Chapter 18

    "I –TRIED not to be anything else," she answered in a low voice—"even when I was coldest and hungriest—I tried not to be." (18.77)

    It takes a whole lot of self-discipline to act as noble and princess-like as possible even when things are absolutely the pits. (Come on, don't you just want to give Sara a big hug at this point?)

    Chapter 19

    The mere fact of her sufferings and adventures made her a priceless possession. (19.1)

    Sara has created her own courageous hero's narrative—and because of that, she's someone to be proud of. Although, you're not alone in thinking that it's a little weird how the Large Family treats her like a "possession."

  • Jealousy

    Chapter 2

    One of Miss Minchin's chief secret annoyances was that she did not speak French herself, and was desirous of concealing the irritating fact. (2.24)

    This is the moment when Miss Minchin really starts to dislike Sara—because she has a desired skill (that pretty, fluent French-speaking!) that Miss Minchin doesn't have. Notice how the jealousy is way more about Miss Minchin's inadequacies than what Sara actually has?

    Chapter 4

    Lavinia, in fact, was spiteful. She was inordinately jealous of Sara. Until the new pupil's arrival, she had felt herself the leader in the school. (4.6)

    Your days are numbered, Lavinia. Next time, try being nice to people. Seems to work for Sara.

    Chapter 6
    Lavinia

    "She's ridiculous without being rich," Lavinia sniffed. (6.4)

    Lavinia can't find enough bad things to say about Sara, even though she hardly knows her. Check out the fun way that Burnett makes Lavinia "sniff." Can't you just see her little nose stuck up in the air?

    "I suppose she thinks she could be a princess if she was a beggar," said Lavinia. "Let us begin to call her Your Royal Highness." (6.13)

    This whole "royal princess" thing kind of backfires on Lavinia when Sara takes it to mean that she should act like a princess in the generous and proper sense, not in the spoiled rotten sense.

    Chapter 16

    "… And it's ridiculous that she should look so grand, and be made so much of, in her rags and tatters!" (16.12)

    Even when Sara's poor, Lavinia feels threatened by her. Hmmm, looks like Sara isn't just a spoiled little princess after all.

    Lavinia

    "Perhaps the diamond mines have suddenly appeared again," said Lavinia, scathingly. "Don't please her by staring at her in that way, you silly thing." (16.83)

    Oh, Lavinia. We would almost feel sorry for you, if you weren't such a waste of paper. (Just kidding. We need you around so we can see how much we like Sara.)

    Chapter 18
    Miss Minchin

    "You will never see your companions again," she began. "I will see that Ermengarde and Lottie are kept away--" (18.71)

    Miss Minchin is truly spiteful, but thankfully, Sara's got a lawyer on her team. Always good to have a lawyer around!

    "The diamond mines!" Miss Minchin gasped out. If this was true, nothing so horrible, she felt, had ever happened to her since she was born. (18.54)

    Hah! Serves you right, you mean, nasty thing. Miss Minchin will never get her hands on that money now. And what's even better is she has to watch Sara's every move, since they're still living right next door.

    "…The fact was, she was too clever for you, and you always disliked her for that reason." (18.82)

    Miss Amelia rarely appears in the story, but at the end, it's clear that Miss Minchin (and the reader) has underestimated her. She knows what's up. Too bad she didn't speak up earlier, when it could have done Sara some good.

    The next morning, Miss Minchin, in looking out of her window, saw the things she perhaps least enjoyed seeing. (18.24)

    Miss Minchin will just have to deal with that envy and regret boiling in her chest forever. We only wish we were going to be around to see it.

  • Perseverance

    Chapter 2

    Little Sara rose in her seat. She was beginning to feel rather desperate, as if she were almost in disgrace. She looked up into Monsieur Dufarge's face… (2.37)

    Sara won't let Miss Minchin keep thinking that she doesn't want to learn French… much to Miss Minchin's embarrassment. Oops!

    Chapter 4

    Sara stood by the howling furious child for a few moments, and looked down at her without saying anything. Then she sat down flat on the floor beside her and waited. (4.38)

    The only way to deal with a screaming toddler is to wait it out, like a storm. (Oh, and it helps if you can then distract her with a story.)

    Chapter 8
    Sara Crewe

    "Yes," answered Sara, nodding. "Adversity tries people, and mine has tried you and proved how nice you are." (8.76)

    Even though their class stations are now completely different, Ermengarde still works doggedly to maintain her friendship with Sara. After all… BFF! She may not be a heroine like Sara, but Ermengarde still has our vote.

    During the first month or two, Sara thought that her willingness to do things as well as she could, and her silence under reproof, might soften those who drove her so hard. (8.10)

    Sara tries to do her new chores and jobs as well as possible, but Miss Minchin still hates her guts. Perseverance isn't going to soften this one up.

    Chapter 10

    "I can't bear this," said the poor child, trembling. "I know I Shall die. I'm cold; I'm wet; I'm starving to death." (10.32)

    Don't give up, Sara! Magical Indian men with their trained monkeys will be on their way to save you soon enough!

    Chapter 11

    "Whatever comes," she said, "cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside." (11.20)

    Sara's not going to give up her inner princess. Nuh-uh, no way. After all, you can't take away an imaginary crown.

    Chapter 12

    "Come, come," said Carmichael. "We shall find her yet…" (12.48)

    The search for Ralph Crewe's daughter continues, even though the odds of finding her look awfully slim. So, it looks like there's perseverance on both sides of the wall.

    Chapter 13

    But she persevered obstinately, and as the muddy water squelched through her broken shoes and the wind seemed trying to drag her thin jacket from her, she talked to herself as she walked, though she did not speak aloud of even move her lips. (13.10)

    Sara can even determinedly talk herself out of feeling cold and hunger… or at least some of it, anyway. Everyone has a breaking point—we think.

    Chapter 16

    And she came in with a springing step, color in her cheeks, and a smile hovering about the corners of her mouth. (16.25)

    What's up! Even after being denied breakfast, supper, and dinner for days, Sara shows Miss Minchin that she can't keep her spirits down. (Okay, well, it helps that she actually is being fed in secret. But still.)

    Chapter 17
    Mr. Carrisford

    "We must begin at once. No time must be lost," Mr. Carrisford fretted. "Have you any new suggestions to make—any whatsoever?" (17.39)

    Sara wasn't to be found in Paris, but Mr. Carrisford is determined to keep looking for her, even if it's blindly. Luckily his patience is just about to be rewarded.

  • Friendship

    Chapter 3
    Sara Crewe

    "I wish we could be 'best friends.' Would you have me for yours? You're clever and I'm the stupidest child in the school, but I—oh, I do so like you!" (3.68)

    And then, Ermengarde gives her half of a heart necklace. Sara and Ermengarde feel a kinship toward each other even though everyone else thinks they're weird (for different reasons). Loners unite, right?

    … and Sara saw her and was so sorry for her that she began rather to like her and want to be her friend. (3.4)

    Ah, the beginnings of a beautiful friendship: pity. No but really, Sara and Ermengarde are meant to be BFFs.

    Chapter 8
    Ermengarde

    "May I creep up here at night, whenever it is safe, and hear all the things you have made up in the day? It will seem as if we were more 'best friends' than ever." (8.75)

    Ermengarde is even willing to risk the ire of the very scary Miss Minchin in order to keep up her friendship with Sara. She may not be smart or pretty, but she's a really good friend—as good a friend as Sara herself is. Which makes her a princess of her own, right?

    The first, it must be owned, was Becky—just Becky. Throughout all that first night spent in the garret, she had felt a vague comfort in knowing that on the other side of the wall in which the rats scuffled and squeaked there was another young human creature. (8.23)

    You know you've hit a low point when you're stoked to know that there's another person in a dingy attic who's just as miserable as you are.

    But there were hours when her child heart might almost have broken with loneliness but for three people. (8.22)

    If it weren't for Ermengarde, Becky and Lottie, Sara would have no one to talk to but a doll and a rat (literally). So, thank goodness for friends.

    Chapter 15

    "Ernie!" she said. "Let us pretend! Let us pretend it's a party! And oh, won't you invite the prisoner in the next cell?" (15.118)

    Ain't no party like a secret attic party! And it really is a good party. In fact, this secret attic party sounds nicer than Sara's fancy 11th birthday—at least, there's a lot more love. (Slightly less cake, though.)

    It was better than to go into the room alone and find it empty and desolate. The mere presence of plump, comfortable Ermengarde, wrapped in her red shawl, would warm it a little. (15.21)

    Even when you're freezing cold, it's nice to have a good friend to warm your spirits. (Although, Ermie, that shawl would probably help, too.)

    Chapter 16
    Sara Crewe

    "I can write to him," she said joyfully, "and leave it on the table. Then perhaps the person who takes the things away will take it, too. I won't ask him anything. He won't mind my thanking him, I feel sure." (16.84)

    Check out how Sara is even nervous about thanking her mysterious benefactor, just in case he doesn't even want to be acknowledged. Pro tip, Shmoopers: always write your thank-you notes.

    "Nice monkey! Nice monkey!" she crooned, kissing his funny head. "Oh, I do love little animal things." (16.110)

    Sara is a regular Snow White when it comes to the number of animal friends she has: rats, monkeys, and sparrows.

    Chapter 18

    "Then it is you who are my friend," she said; "It is you who are my friend!" And she dropped her face on his thin hand and kissed it again and again. (18.23)

    The story begins with a fake friend—Emily—and it ends with a very real friend: Mr. Carrisford, who she finds is not her father's "wicked" friend but her mysterious and very wealthy friend.

  • Appearances

    Chapter 4

    She was rather pretty and had been the best-dressed pupil in the procession when the Select Seminary walked out two by two, until Sara's velvet coats and sable muffs appeared... (4.6)

    Oooh, Sara has all the best fashion when she comes to Miss Minchin's school. And of course her nice clothes win her an enemy at once: Lavinia.

    Chapter 5
    Lavinia

    "Well," she remarked, "I do not know whether your mamma would like you to tell stories to servant girls, but I know my mamma wouldn't like ME to do it." (5.16)

    Lavinia cares way too much about whether people look "high class" enough for her to associate them. Really. Anyway, we guess we can't blame her, because she's obviously been learning this at home.

    Chapter 7

    "Oh, Becky," she said. "I told you we were the same—only two little girls—just two little girls." (7.204)

    On the outside, Sara and Becky look like they're the same, but Becky convinces her that it isn't so: Sara is still a little princess. Isn't this just a little contradictory? We're not actually sure if the book believes that we're all the same, or that some of us are actually special.

    She did not look in the least like the rose-colored butterfly child who had flown about from one of her treasures to the other in the decorated schoolroom. She looked instead a strange, desolate, almost grotesque little figure. (7.157)

    Sara's appearance truly takes a turn for the worse when her papa dies. You know its bad when your own narrator is describing you as "grotesque."

    Chapter 8
    Lavinia

    "To think that she was the girl with the diamond mines," Lavinia commented. "She does look an object. And she's queerer than ever." (8.17)

    Lavinia is obviously the most compassionate and selfless person at the school. Obviously.

    Chapter 10

    She had known that she looked odd and shabby, but until now she had not known that she might be taken for a beggar. (10.14)

    Oh how embarrassing! The littlest member of the Large Family mistook Sara for a poor beggar due to her sad attire. Luckily, both of them handle it with real grace—like the well-bred children that they are.

    Chapter 15
    Sara Crewe

    "I didn't want you to know," Sara said. "It would have made me feel like a street beggar. I know I look like a street beggar." (15.104)

    Sara is acutely aware of how un-rich she looks, but Ermengarde doesn't mind at all. Guess there are some benefits to being a little dim-witted.

    Chapter 16

    It was the Princess Sara indeed. At least, since the days when she had been a princess, Sara had never looked as she did now. She did not seem the Sara they had seen come down the back stairs a few hours ago. She was dressed in the kind of frock Lavinia had been used to envying her the possession of. (16.81)

    Take that Lavinia and Miss Minchin! Sara's back in fashion. (And, hey, where is our mysterious benefactor? We could totally use a new wardrobe.)

    Chapter 19

    The Indian gentleman's carriage, with its tall horses, drew up before the door of the next house, and its owner and a little figure, warm with soft, rich furs, descended the steps to get into it. (19.24)

    Wow. She really does like those sumptuous fabrics and furs, doesn't she? Why all the emphasis on the clothes? And do you notice how Burnett describes all these clothes with texture detail? It not actually about how they look, but how they must feel: "soft," "warm," and "rich." Mmm, makes us want to take a nap.

    Sara Crewe

    "…Excuse the liberty, miss,"—to Sara—"but you look rosier and—well, better than you did that—that—"

    Sara looks so different from her street-rat self by the end that the bakery woman can hardly recognize her. But she's still the same person underneath.

  • Poverty

    Chapter 7
    Miss Minchin

    "You are a beggar," said Miss Minchin, her temper rising at the recollection of what all this meant. "It appears that you have no relations and no home, and no one to take care of you." (7.166)

    Miss Minchin really knows how to soften the blow of delivering the news of a child's father's death, doesn't she?

    Chapter 8
    Sara Crewe

    "If I do not remind myself of the things I have learned, perhaps I may forget them," she said to herself. "I am almost a scullery maid, and if I am a scullery maid who knows nothing, I shall be like poor Becky." (8.13)

    Sara has to keep her mind "rich" in order to avoid succumbing to general poverty. So, we guess you could say that she's never fully impoverished. Just mostly impoverished. Hey, it's something!

    Chapter 10

    "Here, poor little girl," he said. "Here is a sixpence. I will give it to you." (10.7)

    It's a pretty sad day when you're referred to simply as "poor girl." This is a good example of how poverty can strip people of their individuality. (When was the last time you learned a homeless person's name?)

    One of these nights, when she came up to the attic cold and hungry, with a tempest raging in her young breast, Emily's stare seemed so vacant… (10.29)

    When she's poor, it's as though even Emily has abandoned Sara. Gee, maybe you shouldn't rely on dolls for your only friends?

    Chapter 12
    Mr. Carrisford

    "I MUST find her. If she is alive, she is somewhere. If she is friendless and penniless, it is through my fault…" (12.33)

    Mr. Carrisford is all broken up inside with guilt because he thinks it's his fault that Sara is somewhere out there with no money whatsoever. And, well, it kind of is. But we still think Miss Minchin deserves the most blame.

    Chapter 13

    The child got up and shuffled in. to be invited into a warm place full of bread seemed an incredible thing. She did not know what was going to happen. She did not care, even. (13.81)

    It's true—there could always be someone poorer than you. This is something that Sara definitely learns. (Although we'd hate to know what someone poorer than this beggar looks like.)

    She knew she need not hesitate to use the little piece of money. It had evidently been lying in he mud for some time, and its owner was completely lost in the stream of passing people who crowded and jostled each other all day long. (13.18)

    Sara is so poor that even the sight of a dropped fourpenny piece makes her elated. To be honest, we love finding change in the street, too.

    …Sara was sent out again and again, until her shabby clothes were damp through. The absurd old feathers on her forlorn hat were more draggled and absurd than ever… (13.10)

    Poor Sara has to give up all of her nice clothes and wear her silly, worn-out ones instead. Although, why? What's Miss Minchin going to do—sell the old clothes? Let some other girl wear them? This just seems spiteful to us.

    Chapter 14
    Mr. Carrisford

    "What a bed for a child to sleep in—and in a house which calls itself respectable!" (14.18)

    Mr. Carrisford's staff is totally appalled at Miss Minchin's treatment of Sara, and with good reason too.

    Chapter 15

    "Yes," she said in a new passionate way. "Yes, I am. I'm so hungry now that I could almost eat you. And it makes it worse to hear poor Becky. She's hungrier than I am." (15.101)

    Sara and Becky are poor girls-in-arms together. They should form a club! Well, except it would be the most depressing club ever.

  • Transformation

    Chapter 7

    "You are not a princess any longer. Your carriage and your pony will be sent away—your maid will be dismissed." (7.176)

    That's right! You heard me! Your carriage and pony will be taken away, you fallen princess, you!

    Chapter 8

    The change in her life did not come about gradually, but was made all at once. (8.4)

    One minute, Sara's opening all her birthday gifts and the guest of honor at school. The next minute, she's sent to the attic and told to help out the cook. What a trip! This is less a transformation than a shove off a high-dive.

    Sara Crewe

    "I am different," she explained, "though not in the way you think. Miss Minchin does not want me to talk to the girls. Most of them don't want to talk to me." (8.56)

    Sara feels awkward around Ermengarde after she's delegated to maid-work because they're no longer on the same level. But she's no different, really—it's just that people see her differently.

    Chapter 9

    She was walking round the small place, holding Lottie's hand and making gestures which described all the beauties she was making herself see. She quite made Lottie see them, too. (9.34)

    Sara tries to transform her sad attic room for Lottie so that she won't feel sorry for her—and it works. Until Lottie leaves, that is.

    Chapter 10

    Sara started, and all at once realized that she looked exactly like poor children she had seen, in her better days, waiting on the pavement to watch her as she got out of her brougham. (10.8)

    Oh dear! How awfully embarrassing! Jeeves, please bring our fine silks at once!

    Chapter 15

    "…The Magic has come and done it, Becky, while we were asleep—the magic that won't let the worst things EVER quite happen." (15.260)

    We wish we had a magical secret friend who cleaned our rooms every night. Seriously.

    The face she saw was a shining wonderful thing. The Princess Sara—as she remembered her—stood at her very bedside, holding a candle in her hand. (15.259)

    Sara is so excited when she sees that her room has been tricked out in the middle of the night that Becky thinks she's looking like her old self again.

    "These are the plates," she said. "They are golden plates. These are the richly embroidered napkins. Nuns worked them in convents in Spain." (15.154)

    With the magic of her imagination, Sara transforms some knick-knacks in her room into beautiful party things.

    Chapter 19

    And actually it was the beggar-child, clean and neatly clothed, and looking as if she had not been hungry for a long time. (19.41)

    Sara's not the only one who looks completely different. That starving child has gotten a bit of a makeover, too. This is a transformation that we're glad to see.

    "My word!" ejaculated Jessie, jogging Lavinia's elbow. "Look at the Princess Sara!"

    Much to everyone's shock, Sara starts wearing fancy clothes again—but, she's still the same Sara.

  • Society and Class

    Chapter 7
    Becky

    "Yes miss, you are," she cried, and her words were all broken. "Whats'ever 'happens to you—whats'ever—you'd be a princess all the time—an' nothing couldn't make you nothin' different." (7.206)

    Even though Sara is penniless, Becky still considers her a "miss." So, is class something that's innate? Or can it be gained and lost, like money?

    Chapter 8

    When she went down to breakfast she saw that her seat at Miss Minchin's side was occupied by Lavinia, and Miss Minchin spoke to her coldly. (8.7)

    Uh-oh. As soon as Sara is poor, Miss Minchin moves her away from all the other girls. How rude!

    Lavinia

    "To think that she was the girl with the diamond mines," Lavinia commented. "She looks like an object." (8.17)

    Thanks for the observation, Lavinia. That's a very nice thing to say about someone whose recently been orphaned.

    Chapter 10

    And afterward she was called by all of them, "The-little-girl-who-is-not-a-beggar," which was, of course, rather a long name… (10.24)

    Even though she looks like a beggar, dresses like a beggar, and is hungry like a beggar… Sara's still got the manners of a real lady, and it shows.

    Her face went red and then it went pale, and for a second she felt as if she could not take the dear little sixpence. (10.8)

    Sara is super embarrassed to be mistaken for a beggar, but she doesn't want to hurt little Guy Lawrence's feelings—so she takes the sixpence. That girl is a class act.

    Chapter 11

    And so when the servants, taking their tone from their mistress, were insolent and ordered her about, she would hold her head erect and reply to them with a quaint civility which often made them stare at her. (11.25)

    Sara's a true lady even when taking orders from the cook. We wish our servants were so polite. (We kid! We kid!)

    Chapter 13
    Sara Crewe

    "If I'm a princess," she was saying, "if I'm a princess--when they were poor and driven from their thrones—they always shared—with the populace—if they met one poorer and hungrier than themselves." (13.33)

    When she's hungry and can't take it anymore, Sara still offers to help out the poor child in the street, 'cause that's the high-class thing to do. Obviously.

    Chapter 15
    Miss Minchin

    "So I see," said Miss Minchin witheringly. "With Princess Sara at the head of the table." (15.206)

    Miss Minchin has some sense of humor, huh? Oh, wait. We're not laughing.

    Chapter 16

    "… Ermengarde had taken up her hamper to share with Sara and Becky. She never invites us to share things. Not that I care, but it's rather vulgar of her to share with servant girls in attics." (16.14)

    Lavinia really cares way too much about who you should and should not associate with, and not nearly enough about how you treat people. Come on, Lavinia. Aren't you nearly a grown up?

    Chapter 18

    "There are not many princesses, Miss Minchin, who are richer than your little charity pupil, Sara Crewe, will be." (18.55)

    Of course, at the end, the joke's on Miss Minchin and Lavinia because Sara now has all the class and the money in the world. Take that!

  • Suffering

    Chapter 7

    Becky ran to her and caught her hand, and hugged it to her breast, kneeling beside her and sobbing with love and pain. (7.205)

    Nothing compares to the pain of learning that her papa has died, and even Becky feels terrible for Sara. Well, we say "even," but it actually seems at this point like Becky might be the only one.

    Chapter 13

    Added to this, she had been deprived of her dinner, because Miss Minchin had chosen to punish her. She was so cold and hungry and tired that her face began to have a pinched look, and now and then some kind-hearted person passing her in the street glanced at her with sudden sympathy. (13.10)

    Life at Miss Minchin's school is certainly not as rosy as it was in the beginning, with all those sumptuous fabrics, toys and books. (And you know it's bad when random strangers feel sorry for you.)

    Just to look at her made Sara more hungry and faint. (13.32)

    As if there weren't enough things to make Sara hungry and faint already! But this is how we know Sara is a true princess: she suffers along with the populace.

    Chapter 15
    Ermengarde

    "Sara," she said in a timid, almost awe-stricken voice, "are—are —you never told me—I don't want to be rude, but—are YOU ever hungry?" (15.99)

    Well, duh, Ermengarde. Duh. But we can't really blame Ermengarde: she's a loyal and true friend, but she has literally no imagination. If she's not hungry, she can't imagine that anyone else would be.

    Sara Crewe

    "There isn't any banquet left, Emily," she said. "And there isn't any princess. There is nothing left but the prisoners in the Bastille." And she sat down and hid her face. (15.224)

    When the magic has come and gone, it's just Sara in her sad, lonely little attic. Super depressing, Shmoopers. But wait! This may be the darkest moment yet—which means that dawn can't be far behind.

    She suddenly felt so tired—perhaps through want of food—that she sat down on the edge of the bed quite weakly. (15.228)

    Noooo! Just hold on for a few more hours, Sara: help is on the way.

    Chapter 16

    But after yesterday's deprivation of meals, the violent scene of last night, the prospect of hunger today, she must surely have broken down. It would be strange indeed if she did not come downstairs with pale cheeks and red eyes and an unhappy, humbled face. (16.24)

    Wow, Miss Minchin really wins Villain of the Year Award. All she wants is to see a little girl look "broken"—so you have to wonder why so many parents are entrusting their children to her.

    Chapter 17

    He was himself so well and happy, and so surrounded by cheerfulness and love, that desolation and broken health seemed pitifully unbearable things. (17.37)

    It's not just the poor who suffer. Even though Mr. Carrisford has all the money in the world, he's utterly miserable.

    Chapter 18
    Mr. Carrisford

    "As to starving in the streets," he said," She might have starved more comfortably there than your attic." (18.60)

    Touché, Mr. Carrisford. Touché, indeed. (Although probably not true, actually. We do hate to say it, though.)

    Chapter 19
    Sara Crewe

    "I WAS supposing," she said. "I was remembering that hungry day, and a child I saw." (19.13)

    Even when she's as rich as a real princess (and probably richer than some), Sara will never forget her hungriest and most miserable days.