Study Guide

General Matsika and Mrs. Matsika in The Ear, the Eye, the Arm

By Nancy Farmer

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General Matsika and Mrs. Matsika

If you could sneak a peak at the Matsikas' resumes, you'd find stuff like:

  • General
  • Rid the city of gangs
  • Important discoveries in chemistry
  • Award-winning university professor

Yep, they're pretty impressive. But while it's clear they love their kids and want to protect them, they go a little overboard on this front. They lock the kids inside so no one can hurt them, but fail to realize that confining their children from the world hurts them plenty. They're cooped up and friendless, and much as Tendai loves his parents, he certainly wishes they were more lenient. Early on, we're told:

As the Mellower talked, the lines on Father's face relaxed. His eyes became distant and dreamy. Tendai thought the change was amazing. As the cares and irritations dropped away, General Matsika became the father Tendai wished he really had. (1.56)

Ouch. It's not that Tendai hates his dad or anything; he just wishes his dad would relax sometimes. He's always so uptight and inspecting the family. Tendai wishes the dude would relax a little. Relaxation isn't really his bag, though, and so Tendai and his siblings enlist the Mellower's help getting away from the house. None of them think they can convince the General on their own. And so begins the kids' adventure—and string of troubles.

By the end of the novel, both parents figure out their kids are more capable than they've been giving them credit for. They love their children dearly and have done everything they can to get them back—as Mrs. Matsika tells Arm, "it suddenly seemed so stupid to be rich […] I mean, the money has no meaning without the children" (31.9). So when they're finally reunited with their offspring, it seems each parent has done some soul searching about the ways they contributed to their kids' departure. It's a sweet reunion, and going forward, everyone loosens up a bit. Yay.

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