Study Guide

The Ear, the Eye, the Arm Family

By Nancy Farmer

Family

Not sure if you've noticed, but family can be pretty complicated. These people have a special way of getting on your nerves—and this is extra true in The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm since Tendai is locked up at home and his folks have thrown away the key. So Tendai, Rita, and Kuda spend all of their time together, unable to play outside with other kids or even go to school. To say that they are stuck with each other is an understatement.

On the flipside, it's clear this trio of siblings cares deeply about one another. Tendai wants to protect Kuda every step of the way once they are kidnapped, and Rita has moments of looking out for her brothers, too. Even though they get sick of their family from time to time, these kids really value it when all is said and done. Or, should we say, after they've been kidnapped and reunited with their parents.

Questions About Family

  1. Is the Mellower part of the family? Why or why not? How do we expect him to act if he is family?
  2. What obligations are part of being in a family? Which are placed on the Mellower? Tendai? Are these fair?
  3. How does the General deal with the loss of his family? What is Mother's reaction? What do their reactions reveal about their understanding of family?

Chew on This

Tendai's family is great and all, but they're also something he needs a serious break from in order to figure out who he is for himself.

Tendai and his siblings ultimately survive purely because of luck—so breaking their parents' rules almost destroys their entire family. Oops.

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