Ellen Foster

748 Words3 Pages
At the age of ten, most children are dependent on their parents for everything in their lives needing a great deal of attention and care. However, Ellen, the main character and protagonist of the novel Ellen Foster, exemplifies a substantial amount of independence and mature, rational thought as a ten-year-old girl. The recent death of her mother sends her on a quest for the ideal family, or anywhere her father, who had shown apathy to both she and her fragile mother, was not. Kaye Gibbons’ use of simple diction, unmarked dialogue, and a unique story structure in her first novel, Ellen Foster, allows the reader to explore the emotions and thoughts of this heroic, ten-year-old girl modeled after Gibbons’ own experiences as a young girl. 	Kaye Gibbons’ experiences as a child are the foundations for this breathtaking saga of a young girl’s tragic memories of her childhood. As with Ellen, Gibbons’ parents both died before she was twelve-years-old forming the basis of the plot and themes of this novel. The fond memories she possessed of her mother and the harsh ones of her father are reflected in the thoughts and actions of Ellen. The simplistic and humble attitude that both Gibbons and Ellen epitomize in the novel is portrayed through diction and dialogue throughout the novel allows the audience to gain a better understanding and personal compassion for both the character and author. 	The novel is written in a short, choppy sentence structure using simple word choice, or diction, in a stream of consciousness to enable the reader to perceive the novel in the rational of an eleven-year-old girl. One short, simple sentence is followed by another , relating each in an easy flow of thoughts. Gibbons allows this stream of thoughts to again emphasize the childish perception of life’s greatest tragedies. For example, Gibbons uses the simple diction and stream of consciousness as Ellen searches herself for the true person she is. Gibbons uses this to show the reader how Ellen is an average girl who enjoys all of the things normal children relish and to contrast the naive lucidity of the sentences to the depth of the conceptions which Ellen has such a simplistic way of explaining. 	Gibbons’ and Ellen’s harrowing past is related in the novel through Ellen’s inner thoughts and the dialogue between characters. However, when Ellen converses with other characters, Gibbons chose not to use quotation marks or any of the formal methods of documenting dialogue between characters; she

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