Study Guide

The Secret Garden The Home

By Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Home

The Secret Garden takes very seriously the idea that home is where the heart is: Mary lives in India for the majority of her life, but she doesn't seem to care at all when she leaves it behind. It's only as she starts to make friends and to care about the Secret Garden at Misselthwaite Manor that she finds any sense of home at all.

Similarly, Colin Craven lives his entirely life in the house where he was born, but it doesn't truly become home to him until he can find a way to connect emotionally with the grounds and with the ghost of his mother. So clearly, in this book home goes beyond the question of shelter or basic needs and becomes a matter of where you can find emotional support and care.

Questions About The Home

  1. Does it matter what your home looks like in The Secret Garden? That is, Mary lives in a bungalow in India, Colin in a mansion in Yorkshire, and the Sowerbys in a cottage on the moors. How do these different buildings represent (or fail to represent) home for the novel?
  2. What connections does The Secret Garden draw between the robin's nest and Mary and Colin's Secret Garden? How does the human idea of home relate to the natural concept of the bird's nest in the novel?
  3. How does the idea of home in The Secret Garden relate to the natural world surrounding the characters? In what sense might the moors or Yorkshire itself be particularly home to some of the novel's central characters?

Chew on This

Dickon's strong sense of home on the Yorkshire moors saves him from self-consciousness or awkwardness in all human social situations, from his own family's cottage to the aristocratic settings of Misselthwaite Manor.

While Misselthwaite Manor is a rich place that has been in the Craven family for six hundred years, the huge emptiness of this mansion makes it harder to make a home there than the crowded, overstuffed but cozy cottage of the Sowerbys.