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1 The importance of preserving the family unit This is the central message in the novel.

The family institution is a solemn entity. It is created when two adults decide to tie the knot through thei r marriage vows. Hence, parents are mainly responsible in keeping the family uni t intact through love and understanding because divorce and separation can only lead to ugly consequences as clearly shown in the novel. The family institution should also provide security to children. Howev er, when it is broken, children feel helpless and they feel they are victims of the situation. The novel reveals how the five children cope with difficult times when their parents' marriage fails. Claudia and Pixie for example, have to under go emotionally painful and tumultuous moments to get used to their parent's divorc e. The ugly effects of divorce and separations are also shown in the way Claudi a and Pixie resist their step parents and siblings. The quarrels, the screaming, the sibling rivalry demonstrate that the harmony that is central in their famil ies has long gone. Children suffer most from broken homes and they need a lot of time to adapt to their new situation. This is true in the case of Pixie, who ne eds a great deal of time to adjust to her step mother and step sisters, Sophie a nd Hetty. The family institution must be preserved at all cost to avoid unnecess ary sufferings on the part of the children. Parents must protect their children from the effects of divorce as much as possible. If a divorce is unavoidable, pa rents need to ensure that every care is taken to make life as normal as possible for their children. 2 Acceptance and tolerance Learning to accept and tolerate new members in the family is important when a divorce happens. The novel shows how children learn to accept their `new' family members and make the best of their new circumstances. Although this sound s a big task for them, they all end up accepting their new life at the end of t heir stories. Despite their being young, they realize how important it is to le arn to share belongings and love with their step siblings. For example, Pixie h as to learn to share her bedroom with her step sister Hetty. She has to tolerate her privacy being taken away causing her to devise ways to get rid of Hetty fro m her bedroom. She considers her bedroom is her territory and Hetty's presence an intrusion. However, she manages to get her room back after a heated argument wit h her step mother. In the end Pixie learns to tolerate her step sisters and acce pts their differences. Acceptance and tolerance can also be seen in Claudia's story. She learns to accept the presence of her step mother when her father's marriage to her real mother fails. The green pyjamas her step mother gave her and the dinner hosted b y her step mother one night play a role in bringing them closer. Despite her ea rlier resentment towards her step mother, Claudia makes a big decision that it i s not fair for her to hate her step mother. In doing so she also shows her matur ity despite her young age. In Pixie's story, she is shown to accept the fact that her new stepmother is having as much trouble "adjusting" as she is. It is amazin g how these young characters show a lot of strength despite the distinct problem s they face in their families. They learn to accept things around them gradually because they do not have a choice. Furthermore that life has to go on. 3 Responsibility This is another theme that is evident in the novel. Responsibility is shown in different ways in the novel. Marriage entails responsibility. It is about building a family and rai sing children that are part and parcel of a marriage partnership. This will incl

It is fair to say that no one would wish for a divorce but when it hap pens. C olin for instance has trouble learning `being half asleep in school'. They are not without opinions. Pi xie shows that she wants to be heard. Through the main characters' words and actions. It is a pity that he has to shuffle his time between his parents but he pretty much accepts his situation without complaints. The step parents also try their best to be responsible towards their s tep children. Colin has to start all over in a new school and make new friends. although quiet. parents have to carry out their responsibilities well. Colin's mother shows a different kind of responsibility though. She moves to a different place to protect her son from her `rough-house' husband. Another example is Robbo's step father who sends Callie. . Divorce is always an adult s' story and too often children are just trapped in between. education and love. One of the ways this is shown in the novel is by the turns or visits the children have with their new families. we can also see a certai n level of maturity in the children's thinking. Through each of the main characters. She expresses h er frustrations and anger through her words. Therefore if a marriage is broken. Sometimes children are simply attached to their surroundings. He has to divide the weekdays to be at his divorced parents' house. His opinion is never sought. we realize that children too have opinions and that their opinions must also be sought.ude providing shelter. Too often children's feelings are unnot iced. Colin does not have a say at all when her mother decides to move to a nother place to stay safe from his father. we learn that they too wa nt their opinions to be heard and acknowledged. Her strong opinions about the adults aroun d her are revealed when she quarrels with Lucy. Very often than not. often wonders why his mother makes decisions independently. her step mother. children would be directly affected. In another example. 4 Children have opinions too This theme is portrayed through the five main characters in the novel. But how many parents actually sought for their opinions. his sister to s chool every morning and works over time to pay for repairs for the house. clothing. Pixie would like to have a say about her room arra ngement and Colin. Pixie f or instance goes to her step family's house `a few days in a month' while Ralph has a more hectic and complicated schedule. a nd moving into new surroundings can cause an understandable negative reaction. his mother has made the right decision for thei r safety. They have to be sen sitive to the needs of their children since children have a natural attachment t o their parents. insist that their children take turns to visit them. Fo r example. The writer provides the opportunity for the children to voice out the ir opinions frankly and honestly through the stories they tell. Their parents although divorced. Stella tries to make Claudia feel comfortable every time she is wi th them. They make us see the depth of their feelings and opinions through their unique stories. Since all the main characters come from broken homes. there is a communication breakdown between the children and parents who undergo divorce. The novel in a way is a tribute to the children's spirit. Although Co lin misses his father very much. Parents therefore must accept that they still have a responsibility to ensure that the divorce does not cost their children more than it already has. ignored and or not taken seriously resulting in failure in building relati onships in broken homes.