Orphans in Literature

1 02 2012

For some reason, the world of literature is obsessed with orphans.  What’s their deal?

We read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer earlier in the year.  In that book Tom Sawyer’s parents are gone, and his best friend, Huck Finn, is growing up with no mom and a dad that’s never around.  Written just a few years earlier on the other side of the world, Oliver Twist is about an English boy growing up with no parents, and ever since, it seems like authors are a little obsessed  with orphans.

The Ousiders, set about 100 years after Tom Sawyer’s adventures, three brothers take care of one another after their parents die.  Another 50 years later, Harry Potter’s parents are dead before the story begins.  The list goes on – The Baudelaire children from A Series of Unfortunate Events, Leisel from The Book Thief, Heidi, Hugo Cabret, Peter Pan, Lyra from The Golden Compass, Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings books, even Hansel and Gretel.

And the kids in books that do have parents, they always seem to have only one – Percy Jackson, Anand from The Conch Bearer, Katniss from The Hunger Games, Jeremy Fink, Oscar from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Prince Hamlet, Jim Hawkins from Treasure Island, the kids from the Narnia books, and Opal from Because of Winn-Dixie.  

It even extends into movies and comics.  Luke Skywalker is an orphan, so are Batman, Superman, Spider-man, and Little Orphan Annie.  Then you have more of the one parent kids – Cinderella, Snow White, Nemo from Finding Nemo, Simba from The Lion King, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, and even Andy from the Toy Story films.

I’m sure we could come up with a million more answers, but first I have a question.  What is the deal with all the orphans?  Why are books and movies obsessed with them?

Answer in the comments section below.  Your answer should be at least a full paragraph, but maybe two or three.  You should then wait for other students to answer and come back and reply to what they’ve said.  You are required to reply to at least two other kids.