Ellen Foster

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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...
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