English 112 E
March 19, 2012
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons is a book about growing up. However it is different than your typical growing up story because the main character Ellen has to “grow up” at such a young age. Many children in today’s society have to face the same hardships as Ellen because families are beginning to fall apart more. Another main theme and struggle that Ellen has to deal with in this book is the issue of racism. Ellen is white and her best friend, Starletta, is African American and she has to decide whether to go by society’s rules or her own.
In the first couple chapters we learn the background of Ellen’s life. Ellen is a young girl whose father is an alcoholic and mother is very sick and eventually dies which leaves her to take care of herself. Ellen cooks, cleans, manages money, and more for her and her father. Most children at her age do not even worry about these kinds of things much less do it their self. Not only is Ellen’s father an alcoholic, he abuses her and shows absolutely no love for her. The first line of the book expresses Ellen’s feelings toward her father. Ellen says, “When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy. I would figure it out this or that way and run it down through my head until it got easy.”(1) Ellen was forced to act like an adult and mature leaving her to practically have no childhood. The only part in the book where Ellen even shows her innocence or the qualities of a child is when she thinks her new foster family’s last name is Foster. Even though Ellen went through all of these hard times alone she stayed positive and was determined to one day have a family of her own and her determination paid off. This compares greatly to society today because a lot of parents are absent from their children’s lives whether they are alcoholics, sick, or had the child by mistake. The fact that a ten year old child must take care of their self is a pretty sad thought and shows...