Tom’s Midnight Garden Seminar

tom2Compare and contrast the representations of different generations in Tom’s Midnight Garden (Tom, young Hattie and Peter; Uncle Alan and Aunt Gwen; and Mrs Bartholomew/old Hattie). What do you think Pearce is saying about the child at the end when Tom and Hatty are together and real and they discuss “Time no longer”?

How is the garden used in the text? What continuities and contrasts from the other texts in the module (notably The Secret Garden and The Wind in the Willows) can you trace in the use of the garden and nature in Tom’s Midnight Garden? How does the urban garden differ from the rural?

What kind of emotions do Hattie and Tom experience? How do they work through them?

Consider fantasy and children’s texts. What do you make of the lack of explanation for Tom’s time travelling? How are doubt and belief evoked in the reader by the narrative? Why do you think time is such a dominant theme in this text? How are biblical references used?

What kind of world is the secondary world in this text? What other secondary worlds are you aware of in children’s literature. How does these compare to that of Tom’s garden?
Do you know of any other texts which utilise time slip narratives?

What is the overall message about the past that comes across?

How are maturity and “growing up” (or a desire to not grow up) discussed by the text? Is there a traditional “homecoming” at the end? Are conflicts resolved? Does the child mature?

What is the importance of the house and garden? How is it linked with identity and rootedness in the landscape?

Memory and history are central themes. Discuss this and the role of nostalgia in the text.
What is the role of class in the text, particularly in the past world? What kind of national history is presented? What is the connection between ageing, dreams, nostalgia and history presented by the text?

What family relationships are presented in the text? What questions do they raise? What is Uncle Alan’s style of “parenting”? What values are encouraged in children by adults?

What places are mentioned in the text? What do these contribute to the construction of England? How do food descriptions add to this?

Think about the descriptions of the house; the decorations of the rooms in the past and present, the smells, the sounds etc. Why does the clock’s chime penetrate everywhere? How is a notion of time embedded into the descriptions of the house? What happens to Tom the first time the click strikes thirteen times?

How are exercise and diet important to the construction of a healthy child? Is this consistent with the ideas in the other texts on the module.


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