Isolation, in and of itself, does not necessarily carry a positive or negative connotation. It can be a boon when you're seeking solitude, or it can be a lonely existence if it's not something sought after; sometimes isolation can be a tool for manipulation.
In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, we have a young boy who, until he meets the Hempstocks, has no friends worth mentioning and an indifferent family; his only companion is a kitten who meets a tragic early demise. All of this creates a scenario ripe for something highly out of the ordinary to occur without widespread ramifications: a perfect setting for our story.
Questions About Isolation
Do you think the boy wants more friends? Is he bothered by his solitude?
Does Lettie pick him to befriend because of his isolation? Or conversely, is it what makes her appealing to him?
Are Ursula Monkton's attempts to use isolation to manipulate him effective?
Does the boy's isolation make our story any more or less plausible?
Chew on This
The boy has turned to books instead of friends as a method of self-defense.