Study Guide

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Quotes

By Ransom Riggs

  • Admiration

    Prologue

    Growing up, Grandpa Portman was the most fascinating person I knew. (Prologue.2)

    Ignore the misplaced modifier here. Jacob is talking about how when he was growing up, Grandpa Portman was fascinating. Or maybe he means that Grandpa Portman was fascinating when he was growing up, too.

    When I was six I decided that my only chance of having a life half as exciting as Grandpa Portman's was to become an explorer. (Prologue.3)

    They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Young Jacob wants to pretty much be his grandpa, so he tries to imitate his adventurous ways.

    Chapter 3

    I realized it wasn't just my grandfather's life that Miss Peregrine had saved, but mine, too, and my father's. (3.42)

    Jacob has a sort of built-in respect for Miss Peregrine. He recognizes that if she hadn't taken Grandpa in, well, none of his descendants would have ever been born—Jacob included.

    Chapter 4
    Jacob Magellan Portman

    "It's amazing, isn't it? Everything he went through." (4.127)

    Jacob tries to see the good in Grandpa, though, and tries to understand and admire his accomplishments, like the fact that he survived the war and always lived with honor.

    It was true, of course, what my dad said: I did worship my grandfather. (4.52)

    Jacob's dad thinks Jacob's admiration of Grandpa Abe is unhealthy because Dad doesn't think that Abe was a good person. To Dad, Grandpa is hardly a role model. He's just an adulterer and a bad father.

    Chapter 6

    "This is Abraham's grandson, Jacob. He is our honored guest and has come a very long way to be here. I hope you will treat him accordingly." (6.149)

    It is clear that Miss Peregrine and the rest of the children in the home respected Jacob's grandfather very much from the way they treat his grandson.

    Chapter 7

    I was duly impressed, and told him so. "I'm glad someone appreciates my work," [Millard] replied. (7.88)

    The other kids don't appreciate Millard's cataloging of the day-to-day events of Cairnholm because they live them everyday. Since Jacob is an outsider, though, he thinks it's pretty cool stuff.

    Chapter 10
    Emma Bloom

    "I know he would've been proud of you," [Emma] said. (10.338)

    This is nice of Emma to say. She knows that Jacob would have done anything for his grandfather's admiration while Grandpa was still alive, so she gives him a little taste of it.

    Chapter 11

    He was one of the most honorable men I have ever known. (11.147)

    This is perhaps the most important thing Emma can say in her letter to Jacob's dad. Maybe it will let Dad finally see what a good man his own father was, and give him what he needs to become a good man himself.

    I told [Emma] I was [staying]. Tired as they were, the children whistled and clapped. Some embraced me. Even Enoch shook my hand. (11.64)

    By the end of the book, after Jacob has rescued Miss Peregrine, he gets the kind of admiration from the other kids that his grandfather should have received in life.

  • The Home

    Prologue

    My grandfather was the only member of his family to escape Poland before the Second World War broke out. (Prologue.47)

    It's sad that Jacob's grandfather had to leave his home at such a young age, and it's even sadder that he could never return. Jacob will have to face the same decision at the end of the book.

    Chapter 2

    My solution was to stop leaving the house. (2.3)

    Jacob needs safety after Grandpa dies in the woods, so he stays home. Unfortunately, he goes a little overboard, and the home becomes more of a trap than a safe haven. Jacob doesn't even go to Grandpa's funeral.

    Chapter 4
    Jacob Magellan Portman

    "I thought I'd scared you off it. How's our haunted mansion faring these days? Still standing?" (4.79)

    It's difficult for Jacob to see how Miss Peregrine's decrepit house could have ever been a home, especially when everyone else on the island thinks it's haunted.

    Chapter 6

    I gazed at it in wonder—not because it was awful, but because it was beautiful. (6.3)

    It's not until Jacob goes back in time that he sees what a welcoming place the house once was.

    "His shoes are caked with filth," [Millard] said. "Can't have him tracking in mud. The Bird'll have an attack." (6.5)

    Miss Peregrine runs a tight ship, and she's educated her kids well. They respect the home.

    "Something had to be done, so people like myself created places where young peculiars could live apart from common folk—physically and temporally isolated enclaves like this one, of which I am enormously proud." (6.97)

    One of the most valuable gifts a person can give or receive is that of a safe place to live, and Miss Peregrine has done that by taking in the peculiar children.

    Chapter 8
    Jacob Magellan Portman

    "That isn't why you should stay. You belong here, Jacob." (8.298)

    Jacob never felt at home in Florida (because he's not ninety years old), so it's not surprising that he wants to stay in a place where he fits in with kids his age… or ninety-year-olds who at least look his age.

    It was as if being here had some kind of narcotic effect on me; like the loop itself was a drug—a mood enhancer and a sedative combined—and if I stayed too long, I'd never want to leave. (8.48)

    This narcotic effect is interesting, and not really explored beyond this sentence. Is it the safety and serenity of the place that is intoxicating, or is there an actual magical spell on the place to make Jacob want to stay?

    Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine

    "This is their home. I have tried to make it as fine a place as I could. But the plain fact is they cannot leave, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't make them want to." (8.28)

    Miss Peregrine understands that even though her children are safe, they're still curious to explore elsewhere. The more you hear about amazing things outside of where you live, the more you want to leave home, no matter how nice it is.

    Chapter 10
    Jacob Magellan Portman

    "Help us find more people like you. In return, you'll have nothing to fear from Malthus or his kind. You can live at my home. In your free time you'll come with me and see the world, and we'll pay you handsomely." (10.241)

    Jacob is tempted by Golan's option, because he doesn't want to have to choose between two other homes—the home where this parents are, and the home where his friends are. But he decides that he can't turn against his new friends merely for the sake of security and power.

  • Betrayal

    Prologue

    I thought about it, looking at the pictures and then at my grandfather, his face so earnest and open. What reason would he have to lie? (Prologue.38)

    At this point, Jacob does believe Grandpa—which is great because Grandpa isn't lying to him. But when kids make fun of Jacob at school for believing these stories, Jacob changes his mind. It's not Grandpa who betrays Jacob at all, but the other way around.

    My dad explained it to me: Grandpa had told him some of the same stories when he was a kid, and they weren't lies, exactly, but exaggerated version of the truth. (Prologue. 46)

    Maybe Grandpa was upset because his own son kind of betrayed him years ago by losing trust in him.

    I told [Grandpa] that a made-up story and a fairy tale were the same thing, and that fairy tales were for pants-wetting babies, and that I knew his photos and stories were fakes. I expected him to get mad or put up a fight, but instead he just said, "Okay." (Prologue.45)

    Or maybe Grandpa does betray Jacob here. Why doesn't he try harder to convince him?

    Chapter 2

    Even my best and only friend Ricky didn't believe me, and he'd been there. (2.14)

    When no one believes him, Jacob knows how his grandfather felt all those years. And it sure doesn't feel good.

    I pretended to be fine. […] I faked an entire dream journal, making my dreams sound bland and simple, the way a normal person's should be. (2.28)

    Jacob tries to betray his psychiatrist by lying to him and saying he's all better, but (1) Dr. Golan is able to see right through that, like a good psychiatrist should, and (2) Dr. Golan is ultimately trying to betray Jacob by having him lead right to his grandfather's true home.

    Jacob Magellan Portman

    "How about when you die? Should I burn all your old manuscripts?" (2.52)

    Jacob thinks it's a betrayal of his grandfather's memory if he just throws all his stuff away. But maybe it's just an age difference. What's Grandpa going to do with the stuff anyway, now that he's dead? Dad understands that, but Jacob isn't old enough to get that yet.

    Chapter 4

    If Grandpa Portman wasn't honorable and good, I wasn't sure anyone could be. (4.52)

    Finding out that Grandpa might be an adulterer doesn't just sting, it kind of shakes Jacob to his very core. Jacob wants to be Grandpa, but he doesn't want to be him if he's not as good of a person as he's thought.

    My grandmother had bought my dad this ridiculous pink bunny costume, and he put it on and sat by the driveway waiting for Grandpa Portman to come home from five o'clock until nightfall, but he never did. (4.29)

    Lots of Dad's resentment for Grandpa comes from this time when Grandpa didn't come home for Halloween. Their relationship never quite recovered from this betrayal of trust between father and son.

    Chapter 8

    I sat down with the box in my lap and untied the string. (8.153)

    Jacob doesn't seem to have any guilt or hesitation about betraying Emma's trust and looking into her private things. Why is that? Does he feel entitled to any information about his grandfather, or does he not quite see her as a real person with real feelings?

    Chapter 9
    Jacob Magellan Portman

    "Instead you tried to seduce me with food and fun and girls while keeping all the bad things a secret?" (9.48)

    Jacob feels betrayed by Miss Peregrine because she's a little selective with the information she chooses to tell him. Does he have a point? Is she manipulating him?

  • Identity

    Prologue

    At home I made my ambitions known by parading around with a cardboard tube held to my eye, shouting, "Land ho!" (Prologue.3)

    Early on, Jacob knows he wants to be an explorer. It's kind of sad when his own parents discourage him from pursuing his true identity.

    Chapter 1

    [Ricky] called me Special Ed because I was in a few gifted classes, which were, technically speaking, part of our school's special-education curriculum. (1.53)

    This is a quick way of letting us know that Jacob is "gifted." The story would probably pan out a lot differently if Ricky, who is less-than-gifted, were our protagonist.

    Chapter 2

    "You don't strike me as a quitter."

    "Then you don't know me very well," I replied. (2.68-2.69)

    Jacob thinks he's a quitter because that's basically all he's tried to do—he quits his job, he quits school, and he quits leaving the house. He's remarkably successful at quitting.

    Chapter 3

    I dreamed instead about my grandfather as a boy, about his first night here, a stranger in a strange land, under a strange roof, owing his life to people who spoke a strange tongue. (3.42)

    Jacob is really identifying with his grandfather here because he is spending his first night on Cairnholm Island, and probably feels very similar to the way Grandpa did back then.

    "We're the sickest rapping duo in Wales," Worm said. (3.73)

    At least that's how the two troublemaking teens of Cairnholm want to be identified. Everyone else just thinks they're punks.

    Chapter 4

    "I think—your aunt and I both thought—that there was another woman. Maybe more than one." (4.38)

    If this is true, this changes Grandpa's identity in Jacob's mind from a brave explorer to simply an adulterer.

    Chapter 6

    "We're peculiar," [Millard] replied, sounding a bit puzzled. "Aren't you?"

    "I don't know. I don't think so."

    "That's a shame." (6.17-6.19)

    In this book, it's a good thing to identify as peculiar. Of course, don't all "peculiar" children just want to find others just like them?

    Chapter 8

    [Emma] was heartbroken for someone else, and I was merely a stand-in for my grandfather. (8.180)

    Jacob's identity as Abe's grandson isn't normally an issue, but it is with Emma because she was in a relationship with Abe. Jacob can't figure out if Emma likes him for who he is, or because he looks like his grandpa (but without the wrinkles).

    [Dad] was forty-six years old and still trying to find himself. (8.216)

    Jacob shows a surprising level of empathy for his father. But teenagers know better than anyone how important it is to define your identity at an early age… that way you don't end up like Jacob's dad.

    Chapter 10

    "How do you know those people?"

    "Because I am those people," he said. (10.216-10.217)

    Dr. Golan—if that is his real name (it probably isn't)—is a master at changing identities. It helps that he's good at accents, and non-descript enough to pass for any generic old guy.

  • Appearances

    Prologue

    "He doesn't look strong," I said, studying the boy's skinny arms. (Prologue.32)

    Many of the peculiar children look perfectly normal, like this kid. Some, however, don't, like Millard the invisible boy and the girl with a mouth in the back of her head.

    Chapter 2

    The image was so strange, and yet it was nothing like my grandfather's pictures. There were no tricks here. It was just a woman—a woman smoking a pipe. (2.107)

    The realistic-looking image convinces Jacob that this might be true. If it had been a goofy-looking one, Jacob probably would have written Miss Peregrine off as fantasy right then and there.

    Chapter 3

    My grandfather had described it a hundred times, but in his stories the house was always a bright, happy place—big and rambling, yes, but full of light and laughter. What stood before me now was no refuge from monsters but a monster itself, staring down from its perch on the hill with vacant hunger. (3.116)

    Jacob can't rationalize his grandfather's description of Miss Peregrine's house with the hollow shell it appears to be when he arrives there. It's practically the opposite of what Grandpa said.

    Chapter 4

    "Sure, I remember them," he said. "Odd collection of people. We'd see them in town now and again—the children, sometimes their minder-woman, too—buying milk and medicine and what-have you. You'd say 'good morning' and they'd look the other way." (4.100)

    The children of the home always seemed strange to the villagers, but not because they looked weird (they probably left the weirder-looking kids at home) but because they acted unusually.

    Chapter 5
    Emma Bloom

    "Let me see your eyes! […] No, your real eyes! Those fakes don't fool me any more than your ridiculous lie about Abe!" (5.122)

    Emma wants to see Jacob's eyes because wights—some of the bad guys—don't have pupils. It seems that Emma knows that wights can alter their eyes, too, which makes it a little less surprising to learn that Dr. Golan hid his identity with contact lenses to make his eyes appear human.

    Where had the townspeople been hiding all these big animals? Also, why was everyone looking at me? Every person I passed stared at me goggle-eyed, stopping whatever they were doing to rubberneck as I walked by. I must look as crazy as I feel. (5.81)

    Jacob sticks out when he travels back in time because his clothes look so different than anything people wear in 1940.

    Chapter 6

    "Of course he's Abraham Portman's grandson. Just look at him!" (6.29)

    Jacob looks like his grandfather, which is nice because it helps Miss Peregrine identify him, but it's a little bittersweet for Emma, because Jacob's appearance reminds her of her love for his grandfather.

    Enoch O'Connor

    "I'm either one hundred seventeen or one hundred eighteen," said a heavy-lidded boy named Enoch. He looked no more than thirteen. (6.188)

    Even though the kids are all basically senior citizens, none of them look that way. The time loops prevents them from aging.

    Chapter 7
    Emma Bloom

    "Nobody suspected a thing," [Emma] said. "People come to sideshows to see stunts and tricks and what-all, and as far as anybody knew that's exactly what we showed them." (7.37)

    When most people see something that appears impossible, like a levitating person, they assume it's some sort of magic trick, not an actual supernatural power.

    "Call me a dandy if you will, but just because the villagers won't remember what you wear doesn't give you license to dress like a vagabond!" (7.70)

    We're not sure why Horace takes such pride in his appearance, but there's a nice photo to accompany his description in the book so you know exactly what he looks like.

  • Isolation

    Prologue

    One day my mother sat me down and explained that I couldn't become an explorer because everything in the world had already been discovered. (Prologue.3)

    Jacob's mother stifles his imagination by telling him this, and it makes him miserable and depressed to be in the real world. As we later learn, there are still parts of the world to be discovered, at least for the majority of normal humankind.

    Chapter 2

    As for life on the island, little has changed. (2.105)

    Miss Peregrine's letter is subtle, to say the least. "Little has changed" not just because they're isolated on an island, but because they're isolated in time.

    Chapter 4

    "All I can say is they weren't your regular sort of orphan children." (4.102)

    The orphanage is separate from the rest of the island, away from the village and pretty difficult to get to. They want to be apart from everyone else to keep anyone from finding out their secrets.

    Chapter 5

    I thought about how my grandfather's family had been taken from him, and how because of that my dad grew up feeling like he didn't have a dad, and now I had acute stress and nightmares and was sitting all alone in a falling-down house and crying hot, stupid tears all over my shirt. (5.20)

    Seems like this feeling of being alone runs in the family, and it's reached a critical mass in Jacob as he thinks about how his grandfather was alone, and his father felt alone, and he feels alone. That would be hard to deal with even if he wasn't in the middle of a creepy falling-apart house.

    There never was any girl. I'd imagined her, and the rest of them, too. (5.72)

    Jacob sometimes thinks his isolation is driving him crazy enough to see things. At first, that's a more rational explanation than the fact that some kids might be invisible or able to shoot fire from their hands.

    Chapter 6

    "There was a time when we could mix openly with common folk. […] But the larger world turned against us long ago." (6.91)

    The time loop isolation isn't entirely self-imposed—the real world kind of wanted them gone, too. At least that's what it feels like when they start murdering peculiar-kind.

    "We were always so desperate for news of Abe. I asked him once if he should like to worry me to death, the way he insisted on living in the open like that." (6.64)

    One drawback to being stuck in the time loop is that it's difficult to communicate with the outside world. Even if Grandpa did want to communicate with them, it would be hard to get news to them.

    Chapter 7

    When there was no light anywhere but [Emma's] face on my little screen, I lay there in the dark, still looking. (7.201)

    Thanks to modern technology (that doesn't exist in 1940), Jacob is able to see Emma even while he's apart from her and feeling lonely. We bet if he took her picture for real, it would disintegrate outside the time loop.

    Chapter 9

    "They don't know where to find us. That and they can't enter loops. So we're safe on the island—but we can't leave." (9.8)

    Here's another drawback to the time loop: It's like the hotel California. You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave. At least the amenities are nice.

    For his many sacrifices, he received only scorn and suspicion from those he loved. (9.69)

    This is perhaps the most tragic part of Grandpa's death: He lived a basically selfless existence, but no one around him seemed to appreciate it. In fact, they shunned him because of it. Tough break, Gramps.

  • The Supernatural

    Prologue

    "There was a girl who could fly, a boy who had bees living inside him, a brother and sister who could lift boulders over their heads." (Prologue.15)

    It's easy to dismiss these stories as fairy tales (as Jacob later does), but his grandfather catches him at just the right age to convince him that they're real, if only temporarily.

    Every time he described [the monsters] he'd toss in some lurid new detail: they stank like putrefying trash; they were invisible except for their shadows; a pack of squirming tentacles lurked inside their mouths […]. (Prologue.6)

    Either Grandpa watches a little too much anime, he's crazy, or he's telling the truth about scary supernatural creatures. It takes a few pages for Jacob (and us) to realize it, but Grandpa is telling the truth—monsters are out there.

    The girl's feet weren't touching the ground. But she wasn't jumping—she seemed to be floating in the air. My jaw fell open. (Prologue.27)

    These photos are especially surprising to Jacob because they're Grandpa's. If he saw them online, he's just assume they were computer altered, but at this point, Grandpa is still a trusted source in the story.

    Chapter 1

    In that narrow cut of light I saw a face that seemed to have been transplanted directly from the nightmares of my childhood. (1.98)

    This is the moment when Jacob realizes, if only for a second, that the stories his grandfather told him were true. Or at least partially true: Monsters exist.

    Chapter 2

    Three [photos] were so obviously manipulated that even a kid would've seen through them. (2.58)

    We're not sure why Jacob still believes the photos have been manipulated. Has he managed to deny the fact that Grandpa was killed by a monster? Or can he accept monsters but not peculiar children?

    Chapter 5

    In her hands she held a flickering light, which wasn't a lantern or a candle but seemed to be a ball of raw flame, attended by nothing more than her bare skin. (5.58)

    Notice how Jacob says "seemed to be" here—while he can't explain it, he's still not willing to admit yet that Emma is generating fire with her bare hands.

    I opened my mouth to protest my innocence—and stopped when I noticed a cup floating toward me. (5.137)

    Almost anything Jacob has seen thus far could be explained away somehow, but since David Blaine isn't anywhere nearby, levitating dinnerware can only be the result of something supernatural.

    Chapter 6

    "At base, it is a simple dichotomy: there are the coerlfolc, the teeming mass of common people who make up humanity's great bulk, and there is the hidden branch—the crypto-sapiens, if you will—who are called syndrigast, or "peculiar spirit" in the venerable language of my ancestors." (6.88)

    Whenever supernatural people are being discussed, it helps to have fancy names for them, from the casters of Beautiful Creatures to the Volturi of Twilight. Miss Peregrine's sets itself apart by being nearly unpronounceable. Must be because they're in Wales.

    We just kept walking, the girl who could make fire with her hands and the invisible boy and me. (6.2)

    Jacob feels right at home amongst the peculiar children pretty quickly, even though he still feels as though he doesn't quite fit in, being normal and all.

    Chapter 11

    "That's time travel," I said, astonished. "Real time travel." (11.58)

    Just when we thought we'd seen it all, the supernatural quotient gets turned up to eleven in the final chapter (which just so happens to be… Chapter 11), making us crave more for the sequel.

  • Courage

    Chapter 1

    If it meant that I'd finally be able to put my grandfather's mystery to rest and get on with my unextraordinary life, anything I had to endure would be worth it. (1.129)

    Jacob realizes that his fate is at stake here. He can be cowardly and stay home, or he can be brave and pursue his grandfather's past and his own future.

    "They're coming for me, understand? […] What am I supposed to fight them with, the goddamned butter knife?" (1.24)

    Grandpa is either senile in thinking monsters are after him, or brave for wanting to stand up and fight them. At this point, it's difficult to tell which.

    I picked up the flashlight and stepped toward the trees. (1.79)

    Even though he isn't armed with anything more than a flashlight, Jacob heads into the forest to find his grandfather. That takes courage. Who knows what lurks in the woods of Florida? Alligators, rabid theme park mascots—anything could be out there.

    Jacob Magellan Portman

    "I got a .22 in my trunk. You just wait." And he walked off to retrieve it. (1.77)

    It's a good thing Jacob has brave friends, too. Well, owning a gun is either "brave" or just kind of a Florida thing. We're not sure which.

    Chapter 3

    I thought of all the horrors Grandpa Portman had faced in his life, and felt my resolve harden. If there was anyone to find inside, I would find them. (3.120)

    Jacob's grandfather was a brave man, so Jacob uses his memory of Grandpa's courage to motivate himself to push through difficult situations.

    Chapter 4

    "A young man, not much older than this boy here. […] Walked into town the morning after with not a scratch upon him. […] He only spoke once, to ask my father when the next boat was leaving for the mainland. Said he wanted to take up arms directly and kill the damned monsters who murdered his people." (4.117)

    Here's an illustration of just how brave Grandpa was: Even though he's basically alone in the world, he's willing to not only keep fighting monsters, but to head off to another land to do it.

    Chapter 5

    I got excited—and then just as quickly went cold, because something dreadful occurred to me. I have to go down there. (5.33)

    Jacob's bravery has its limits. Going inside Miss Peregrine's dilapidated house is scary enough, but heading into the dark, creepy basement takes a new level of courage Jacob has to tap into. We feel you, dude.

    Their sudden movement knocked something loose in me and I found my voice again and shouted for them to wait, but they were already pounding the floorboards toward the door. (5.61)

    If we were in his shoes, we might head in the other direction, but when Jacob spots a small group of creepy kids, one of whom can generate fire with her hands, he actually follows them.

    Chapter 8

    "He said he wouldn't be able to live with himself if he sat out the war while his people were being hunted and killed." (8.172)

    Here's the reason Grandpa spent his life fighting monsters: It's a combination of bravery and honor at the core of his personality.

    Chapter 10

    It was like hanging from the back of a speeding train. Bronwyn was terrifying: She bellowed like a barbarian, the veins in her neck bulging, with Millard's blood smeared all over her arms and back. (10.494)

    All the peculiar children get a moment to show their own courage, and here's Bronwyn's. She charges right at a man who has a gun, and she has a wounded friend on her back. That's practically superhuman.