The family is unable to establish roots because they keep moving house/communities.
Some people in the family like moving from place to place, but others don’t (the kids are ‘wildly exited’ and the oldest girl is ‘close to tears’). he mother has abandoned control of where the family is headed.
Belonging to a place is closely tied to belonging in a family. All people in this family are affected by the father’s decision to relocate. To belong in this family, movement is necessary, despite individual wishes.
Family members often have to compromise or sacrifice what they want in order to belong in their family. Some members wish to establish a permanent sense of place and others don’t.
This is demonstrated through the juxtaposition of the differing perceptions of moving based on how they belonged in the place they were living – the oldest girl is on the verge of tears and the youngest girl is ‘beaming’. This is also shown in the mother’s acceptance of her ‘drifter’ lifestyle through the image of the ‘bottling-set / she never unpacked from Grovedale’.
A lack of permanent place to live can provide for a spontaneous lifestyle – anything can happen. This is shown through the repetitive dialogue from the mother, ‘Make a wish, Tom, make a wish.’ The spontaneity of the lifestyle and the excitement caused by the announcement that they will be moving on is shown through the unusual ending of certain lines – ‘…tripping /everyone up’ and ‘…she was / happy here’. The position of the lines echoes the exited movement of the dog, getting in the way of the family packing