Study Guide

Tomorrow, When the War Began Family

By John Marsden


We had to promise not to take grog and smokes […]. It made me wonder about the way adults turn growing up into such a complicated process. They expect you to be always on the lookout for a chance to do something wild. (1.25)

Actually, all families have to look out for each other, and sometimes that means making rules and giving warnings. Even if it doesn't change anything, it can make a parent feel better.

"So, will your parents let you go overseas?" I asked.

"I don't know. They might, if I work on them long enough." […]

"Your parents are so easy to get on with."

"So are yours." (5.11-14)

What's one of the best things about best friends? That they know your folks as well as you do.

Corrie gave al little cry. "No, that's being too logical! You're my best friends! I don't want to be that logical!"

Neither did I, when I thought about it. "Ok, then" I said. "All for one and one for all. Let's go. The three musketeers." (7.61-62)

This part shows how the friends begin to stick together in very real ways. They don't want to be alone, and they come to need each other, just like families do, sticking together no matter what.

"If I could get my family and friends back, healthy, I'd let the stupid people have the houses and cars and things. I'd go and live with my parents in a cardboard box at the tip and be happy." (13.53)

Fi misses her folks desperately. For her, they're the only thing that matters—the invaders an have anything they want so long as she can get her people back. Notice that she includes friends here as on par with family.

"I know what our parents would say," Fi said, "They'd say that the most important thing to them is our safety. They wouldn't want us dead in exchange for them living." (13.56)

Good point, Fi. Hopefully her suggestion warns the group that even though they want to know how their families are, the most important thing is that they stay alive and well.

As sleep crept up on me I turned my mind to my evening ritual […] a movie that I ran in my head every night. In the movie I watched my parents going about their normal lives. […] I didn't know if I was making myself feel bad by trying to make myself feel good, thinking about my parents, but it was my way of keeping them alive and in my thoughts. (15.33)

One way Ellie copes is by remembering all the normal things that used to make up her life, visiting the past to keep its flame lit in the present. She definitely doesn't want to forget her family as time goes by.

I'd noticed that the longer we stayed in Hell, the more we fell into natural rhythms, going to bed when it was dark and getting up at dawn. That wasn't the routine we had at home, no way. (15.36)

With their parents missing, the teenagers slowly become their own parents, taking good care of themselves without anyone telling them to do so.

All they said was they hadn't seen our families, but they'd been told they were safe at the Showground. When I heard this, it was such a relief that I sat down quickly on the ground, as though I'd had the breath knocked out of me. Lee leant against a tree with his hands over his face. I don't think anything else mattered to us much. (17.2)

This quote says it all: Family is the most important relationship of all. All the Hell gang really wants is for their families to be okay.

"OK boys and girls," she began. "Everyone ready for story time?" […] "You guys seem to have had an interesting couple of days yourselves. It mightn't be safe to leave you here alone again."

"OK Mum, get on with it," Homer said. (17.6-7)

Everyone's joking around here a bit, but still—Robyn does totally pull a mom here by picking up on the romantic shenanigans that went down while she and some of the others were off risking their necks to gather intel.

I choked on my sobs as I watched her lying there, her chest slowly rising and falling with each gurgling breath. This was my dear Corrie, my lifelong friend. If Homer was my brother, Corrie was my sister. (22.43)

Nothing says friends can be family like Ellie literally referring to Homer as her brother and Corrie as her sister. No wonder she's so torn up with worry about Corrie's fate after she's shot.