Study Guide

The View from Saturday Identity

By E. L. Konigsburg

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Century Village where my Gershom grandparents live is not like any place I had ever been to. It is in Florida, but it is not exactly Disney World or Sea World or other regular destinations. It is like a theme park for old people. Almost everyone who lives there is retired from useful life. Grandma Sadie and Grandpa Nate fit in nicely. ("Noah Writes a B & B Letter".12)

Come on, Noah. The people at Century Village get married, have parties, go dancing, teach calligraphy to little snots—sounds to us like they have a lot of useful living to do.

For the first few weeks of the new school year, Nadia hardly spoke. All the sixth graders—like Mrs. Olinski herself—were new to Epiphany Middle School, but Nadia—like Mrs. Olinski herself—seemed most disconnected. Both were watchers and waiters, cautious about being friendly, about showing themselves. (2.14)

In The View From Saturday, age seems like a less important marker of difference than personality. Nadia and Mrs. Olinski might be decades apart in age, but they could practically be sisters. (Compare Hamilton Knapp with someone like the menacing principal from Knightsbridge: decades apart in age; evil enough to be brothers.)

"Ginger would not be listed. She is a mixed breed. Like me."

"What's your mix?"

"Half-Jewish, half-Protestant." ("Nadia Tells of Turtle Love".55-57)

Nadia knows what she and her dog are made of and thinks that means she knows what both of them are. She's proud of both of their backgrounds, even though they aren't "purebreds."

There is not a worse feeling in this world than the feeling that someone knows something about you that he has known for almost a whole summer and has kept to himself. Even sharing what he knows about you with others is not as bad as knowing something and not telling you he knows. All you can think about is what he was really thinking the whole time […]. ("Nadia Tells of Turtle Love".109)

Here, Nadia finds out that Ethan knows something about her that she didn't know he knew. (Whew—tongue twister.) Weirdly, it seems to change her whole opinion of him—like now she doesn't know him at all.

Mother avoids the subdivision as if it were a toxic waste dump. She refers to the people who live in The Farm as them. In her mind, there is a big difference between them and us, between living on a farm and living in The Farm. […]

The way I see it, the difference between farmers and suburbanites is the difference in the way we feel about dirt. To them, the earth is something to be respected and preserved, but dirt gets no respect. A farmer likes dirt. ("Ethan Explains the B and B Inn".11-12)

Ethan is careful in the first paragraph to point out that these ideas are his mother's. He even uses the phrase "[i]n her mind." Still, Ethan may say he doesn't want to be a farmer, but he sure talks like one.

I was the son who was scheduled to inherit the farm because Luke was scheduled for greater things. I knew that as soon as I announced to my family what I wanted to do, I would have to be prepared to pay my own way. ("Ethan Explains the B and B Inn".77)

Ethan thinks he's supposed to take over the family business because he's second best, but we have to wonder if Ethan's family feels the same way. Do they think that passing down the business they've nurtured is offering second best?

"Chops," Julian said, "is to magic what doing scales is to a chanteuse. Without it you cannot be a magician, with it alone you cannot be an artist." ("Ethan Explains the B and B Inn".257)

True magicians are both magicians and artists. He's already got the "chops," and now he's learning the magic—like the way he puts together The Souls.

"Ethan Potter. I didn't recognize you." I believe that she [Mrs. Reynolds] did not recognize him, for the person yelling Bravo! was Ethan, The Soul—not Ethan, the silent. ("Julian Narrates When Ginger Played Annie's Sandy".53)

Little turtle-hatchling Ethan is growing up. As part of The Souls, he's come out of his shell.

Mrs. Olinski said, "That is either the most honest or the most dishonest answer I have ever heard. I must notify the bus driver that I'll be driving you four souls home."

Why did she say that? She was smiling. Did she know that we were The Souls? Did she know? ("Julian Narrates When Ginger Played Annie's Sandy".149-50)

Before Mrs. Olinski knows about The Souls, she calls the little group "souls." Coincidence? Or magic?

That is the exact moment she knew that Julian Singh would be the fourth member of her team and that she would always give good answers when asked why she had chosen them. And then and there, she also knew that someday she would drink another cup of slow tea at Sillington House. (5.38)

Hey, look! It's another epiphany.

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