Study Guide

She Elephant in The Ear, the Eye, the Arm

By Nancy Farmer

She Elephant

She lives in a dirty mine full of social rejects. Her hobbies include kidnapping and selling kids and cooking. Even wild dogs can't knock her down. At first glance, we don't want to be friends with the She Elephant. In fact, we want nothing to do with her.

By the end of the book, however, we get to see a different side of her. Don't get us wrong—we still don't want to besties—but we realize (with a little help from the mhondoro) that she's not all bad. Check out what Tendai recognizes when he's possessed:

The vlei people were her real family. She didn't lure them out there: they came willingly. She bullied and exploited them, but to the mournful, unwanted vlei people she represented home. (39.19)

Hmm… as Tendai looks at the She Elephant from the mhondoro's eyes, he gets a new perspective on this strange lady. She's not some raging, demented kidnapper; the people who work with her are like her family. Sure, it looks different than a typical family with parents and kids, but they are family nonetheless. She cares about them and provides a stable home for them, so scary though she might be at times, she's not truly evil. Not at all.

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