Abandonment is what Penny and Primrose felt when they were escorted off on a train with no idea where they were going or what their future might hold. "they were not meant to know where they were going or, like Hansel and Gretel, to find a way back" (Byatt325). The idea of not know where they were going or what was going to happen to the two girls must have been horrifying. I think this story is a story that explains what post traumatic stress disorder is and how it can affect not only the soldiers in the war but the people who lived through the war as well. Penny and Primrose we children who did not know each other from Adam, but they made a family structure between the two of them for the short amount of time that they spent together.
The monster in the forest seems more like a figment of the girl imagination than anything. I believe that it was a bomb or something from the war, but the children refused to believe what they were seeing so they made it out to be a monster. The foul smell may have been the exhaust fumes if it was a tank coming through the area. Children of a young age could easily mistake a tank for a monster, because tanks are heavy pieces of equipment that could seem quite scary to a young child.
Jam is also prevalent throughout the story, it is always a different type of jam though the same jam was never eaten twice. The jam represents a sort of a home feeling I believe, because jam is always served at family breakfasts and dinners. I believe that the author is trying to portray the fact that yes they are in fact at war but home is still here this is still our home no matter what....