Critical Thoughts in Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train





Critical Thoughts in Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train


Chapters 6 and 7 delve deeper into the experiences that Vivian and Molly within the different places they occupy. On one hand, Molly expresses her opinions regarding the mistreatment of Native Americans during the occurrence of the country’s civilization. Aside from the budding relationship she has with Vivian, Molly uses the respective experience as a platform for comparing the mistreatment of the Irish in respect to the Indians under British rule. Her opinions are highly influenced by her study of the Wabanaki Indians and her ethnic relationship to one of her father’s tribe identified as the Penobscot tribe. On the other hand, Vivian reveals her experiences to Molly, which eventually translates into a good relationship between the two. Despite this, she faces adversity from one of Molly’s interests, Jack. Accordingly, Jack views Vivian in a negative sense, which creates a conflict between Molly and him over their budding relationship as friends.


  1. Remnant

In definition, the word ‘remnant’ refers to a diminutive amount of something. For instance, when used in a sentence, the term ‘remnant’ can be applied as illustrated: The only piece of food that the hunger-stricken man could find in the house was actually a remnant of bread that was already stale.

  1. Salvage

The word ‘salvage’ refers to the act involved in rescuing a thing that may possibly be destroyed. Secondly, the term may also refer to the act executed in saving a vessel or its consignment from the dangers of the seas. The word ‘salvage’ can be applied as illustrated: The crewmembers were aware of the danger ahead and as such, were inclined to salvage the remaining cargo before the ship wrecked.

  1. Insubordination

The term ‘insubordination’ refers to the defiance of authority by an individual. In a more organizational context, insubordination comprises the determined failure to observe or act upon the legal orders established by a supervisor or a superior. The term can be used in a sentence as shown: Employers normally establish policies that restrict insubordination and misconduct among employees.

Description of a Person or a Place

In this case, the descriptions pertain to Vivian based on the stories she reveals to Miss Larsen. Foremost, Vivian is described as exaggerative. After undergoing the squalid conditions under the roof of Mrs. Grote, Vivian talks about the sexual harassment that she encounters in respect to the actions of Mrs. Grote. Despite the gravity of the issue due to the emotional toll it imposes on her, she still manages to reveal her negative experiences to Mrs. Larsen. However, Mrs. Larsen assumes that she is exaggerative. The interesting aspect of the respective description involves the irony associated with it. In spite of such sentiments, Mrs. Larsen is convinced that Vivian is telling the truth. Therefore, with the information in mind, she assists Vivian by initiating enquiries regarding a new abode for her.

Secondly, Vivian is described as overdramatic. This is in relation to the opinion given by Mr. Sorenson. The irony of this situation furthers the interesting nature of Vivian’s description. Even after expressing his dissent with Vivian’s recollection, Mr. Sorenson still performs his obligation as a Children’s’ Aid Worker by catering to the current needs of Vivian. Moreover, he works together with Mrs. Larsen in order to change Vivian’s situation irrespective of the fact that they termed her as exaggerative and full of overdramatization.


One of the experiences that possess a personal relation involves Vivian’s surprising emotional response after the demise of Dutchy. Her life as an orphan train has enabled the respective character to distance herself from sentimental entanglements. Furthermore, none of the characters that interact with her possesses full information concerning the life that she experienced as a child and the events that shaped into the current personality that she embodies. Over consequent several years, she is capable of success based on the role that she assumes as store manager. Her proficiency in this respective role is illustrated by the way she expresses considerable awareness regarding the latest trends and styles in fashion. Because of this, the store develops and attains significant success. In her state of success, Vivian eventually meets with one of her old companions, Dutchy while on a trip with some of her girlfriends.

Vivian’s encounter with Dutchy develops into a successful matrimonial relationship due to the couple’s living conditions as well as Vivian’s new role as a mother. However, tragedy follows in respect to Dutchy’s demise after the bombing of the Pearl Harbor. Even though Vivian’s early life was characterized by depleting emotional entanglements, she was incapable of restricting the possibility of love after meeting with Dutchy prior to their marriage. Indeed, the death of Dutchy imposes a considerable yet negative effect on Vivian. For the first time, Vivian is disappointed and afraid. Furthermore, her role as a new mother places her into significant emotional conflict. Simply, she does not know whether she will be capable of taking care of her newborn child without the support of her husband who was now deceased. Even after gaining a close companion and successfully closing up her emotional void, Vivian’s life is drastically interrupted by the sudden death of her spouse.

This part of the story relates to the experiences that I have undergone especially as a young adult. Even though my experiences may not necessarily involve death, they significantly capture the sentimental pain involved in the loss of love. My personal background has been responsible for my attitude towards life. Simply, I try my best in ensuring that I am clear of any emotional entanglements. In spite of this resolve, I have taken part in a number of relationships, which have been emotionally draining. Situations involving misunderstandings and fallouts with partners have posed a substantial effect on my emotional side. Irrespective of the avoidance I exhibited towards participating in emotional relations, I was still incapable of escaping love and its undesirable effects on me as a person.

Questions about the Story

  1. When Vivian and her spouse, Dutchy reunite, she implies that Dutchy can connect with her without making any utterances. Is the same true in respect to her emerging association with Molly?
  2. Molly expresses enthusiasm concerning Vivian’s possible reunion with her long-lost daughter. However, she does not take any actions to remedy her own situation with her mother. What may be the reason that Molly is unwilling to reunite with her mother?
  3. What is the importance of the Claddagh cross that Vivian possesses in the entire story, especially in respect to her life?

Evolving Themes

The story reveals the possible thematic subject of change as a pertinent aspect of the characters’ development. In respect to Vivian, change is seen as a consistent element of her life. From a young age, the aspect of change is illustrated by the efforts that she applies in order to adapt to new situations. As she acclimatizes to her conditions, the actions that she takes also assume a transformative effect on the people that she encounters such as Molly, Dutchy, Mrs. Larsen, and Mr. Sorensen. Eventually, the changes that she undergoes while in transition towards adulthood allow her to recollect the most important elements concerning her life in the end.



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