THE RAILWAY CHILDREN -SYNOPSISRoberta(Bobbie), Peter and Phyllis lived in a comfortable home in London. Their father was a civil servantwhile their mother was a housewife.Their parents were wonderful and kind people. They also had a maidto do the house work.One day, two gentlemen came to the house to see their father. Soon after, he followed them out.He wastaken to prison. He was accused of being a Russian spy. The children did not know why their father leftwith the two men but their mother knew. She kept it to herself and did not tell the children. Soon, they had to move to a modest cottage in theYorkshire countryside. The cottage was situated near a railway station. The childrens life revolved aroundthe passing trains, workers at the station and the towns people.Their mother wrote some stories to earn some money to buy food and for other necessities. It was hard atfirst to be poor but they soon learned to live with the little they had.They learned not to steal coal from the railway station even if they have so little coal to keep warm. Theirlife was full of adventures. For instance, they managed to stop a train when a landslide covered the tracks.They found the injured boy (hound) in the train tunnel and managed to get help for him.
They liked to wave at passing trains. In time they made many new friends and forged a special friendshipwith one old gentleman in particular. The old gentleman gets to know them and helps them in variousways.He becomes instrumental in the release of their father from prison.Finally, one day their father returnshome and everybody is happy that now they are together again.
THE RAILWAY CHILDREN-CHARACTERROBERTA (BOBBIE)Roberta is 12 years old. She has a brother named Peter and a younger sister namedPhyllis.She is fondly known as Bobbie in this novel. She is the eldest of the three. One ofher characters is, she is a very persistent person.She doesnt easily throw in thetowel when the odds seem to be against her.There are many incidences in the novel where we can see herpersistence. Forexample,in chapter 3 (page 17 - paragraph 5 - lines 1-3),we can see how determined shewas in getting the things necessary for her mothers recovery when her motherwas ill. Her persistence paid off when the old gentleman gave the things needed for hermothers recovery.In chapter 6 (page 38 - read the whole page), Perks was not happy with people givinghim presents.He was worried that people would laugh and make fun ofhim.Bobbie persistently reasoned with Perks about the good intentions of the villagepeople giving him the presents untill he relented and accepted the gifts.Finally, Perkscelebrated his birthday with a happy note.In chapter 7 (pg 42 - the whole page), she did not give up in finding a way to help secureher fathers release from prison. She was persistent even when her mother had given up.She secretly wrote a letter to her friend the old gentleman asking for his help to clear herfathers name.In the end her father was released from prison.*Brave - Chapter 5, Chapter 7, Chapter 8*Kindhearted - Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 8*Responsible - Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5*Moral - we must not easily give up when things seem impossible. We must keep tryingby finding means and ways to make the impossible possible like Roberta.PETER
Peter is Robertas brother. He is the second child in the family. Peter is a very brave andsmart young chap. He wants to be an engineer when he grows up. He has a knack forrailway engines. He was overjoyed when his father gave him a steam engine for hisbirthday.One distinct character of Peter is sharp-witted (intelligent).In Chapter 5 (p29 - p4 - lines 1-3), It was he who gave the idea of using something red incolour to wave and stop the train from meeting a certain disaster.He cut his sisters redpetticoats into six pieces and put them on to sticks.Peter together with his sisters wavedat the coming train until it stopped.In Chapter 6 (pg 36 - p1 - lines 1-3), Peter was honest in giving the idea of asking thevillage people to give gifts for Perks birthday.He told his mother about their trueintention of giving Perks the presents.Many people gave gifts for Perks birthday party.In Chapter 2 (pg 12 - p 3 - lines 1-3), we can see the daring side of Peter. He was daringenough to steal coal from the railway station at night but he did it ignorantly.Peterinnocently thought it was alright to take some coal from the station. In Chapter 8(p46 - p1 - lines 1-4 / pg 47 - p2 - lines 1-4), we can see how brave Peter was in searchingfor the boy in the red shirt in the dark tunnel.He was shaking in fear but still hecontinued the search for the boy with his sisters.PHYLLISPhyllis is the youngest child in the family. She is the cutest of the three.She is quite abubbly character. She is very naive and insecure.She is also very sensitive but easilyforgiving.In Chapter 5 (p29,30 & 31), we can see the brave side of Phyllis. She togetherwith her elder sister and brother managed to stop the train from meeting with a terrible
accident.In Chapter 1 (p7 - p1 - last line), Phyllis felt very insecure when they moved in to theirnew house at the countyside.While in Chapter 6 (pg 38 - p1&2),Phyllis became very sensitivewhen Perks refused toaccept the gifts the children had brought to him. She was so hurt by Perkss wordsthat she started to cry.In Chapter 4,5,6 and 8 we can see how loving, caring and helpfulPhyllis is.MOTHER Mother is a homely type.We can read this in Chapter 1 (page 1 -paragraph 2 - lines 1-3). She spends most of her time at home, playing with the childrenor reading stories to them.Usually she read the stories she wrote to them.She is a veryprotective woman. She protected her children from worrying or feeling sad about theirfather. She did this by not telling them what actually had happened to their father. Shealso told them that they need to play being poor for a while in order not to cause moreanxiety on them.In chapter 2 (p12 - pg 1 - lines 2-3), we can see how resourceful she is. Mother wrotestories and sold them to put some food on the table.In chapter 4 (p21 - pg 3 - lines 1-3), we can see that Mother is a very proud person.Although they were poor, she strongly discourages her children from telling people thatthey are poor and asking strangers to help them.She is also a very caring and loving Mother.In Chapter 1 (p1 - p2 - lines 1-3), Mother wasalways ready to play with her chlidren. She also read stories to them. Whereasin Chapter 9 ( p53 - p1 - lines 2-4), she taught her children their lessons as they havestopped going to school for some time now.In Chapter 8 (p50 - p1 - lines 8-9) , she tookin the injured boy into her house and nursed him to health.FATHER
The childrens father worked in a government ofiice. He was a civil servant. He was an honest andhardworking man. He was wrongly accused of being a Russian spy and was sentenced to 5 years inprison.In Chapter 1 (pg 1 - p 3 - lines 2-4),we can see how tolerant and wonderful he is. He never getsangry at the children nor at his wife. The children love their father very much for he is always happy andready to play games with them.In Chapter 1 (pg 3 - p1 - lines 1-3), when Peter showed him his brokensteam engine, father looked at it carefully and smilingly told Peter that there is hope(optimistic) that hissteam engine could be repaired.He is also a grateful man. In Chapter 9 (pg 57 - "Yes,said Father.Its himI must thank.). Father was grateful for his release and wanted to thank the old gentleman for helping himto clear his name and secure his release from prison.
THE RAILWAY CHILDREN - ThemesThere are roughly ten themes in this novel. They are as stated below :-1.The Importance Of A Family - The family bond between the characters inthis novel is very strong. For example, in chapter 1, mother was always at home spending time with thechildren. She played with them and read stories to them. Mother also read stories which she wrote tothem after tea. Moreover, the children had a wonderful father who was never angry, and was alwaysready to play a game with them.The children loved their father and never forgot him though theynever talked much about him. Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis were always together be it at the railway line,the railway station and even when they collected gifts for Perks.2.Hope and Optimism - The childrens father was always optimistic that thingswould be fine.For example, when Peter showed him his broken toy steam engine, father looked at itand optimistically assured Peter that he would mend it.Bobbie had high hopes that the old gentlemanwould be able to help her to seek the truth about her fathers innocence. The old gentleman helpedBobbie in her quest because he had hopes that her father was innocent.
3.Bravery -Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis are brave children. Theyrisked their lives to stop a train from accident. Peter and Phyllis waved their flags by standing alongthe railway line while Bobbie ran on to the line waving her falgs. The children aslo showed braverywhen they entered the dark tunnel to look for the boy in the red shirt.Mother stayed calm andbrave for the chlidrens sake while her husband was away in prison.4.The Joys Of Childhood5.Kindness Brings Reward6.The Loss Of Innocence7.Justice Shall Prevail8.Coping With Hardship9.Resourceful And Innovative10.Naivety
THE RAILWAY CHILDREN-MORAL VALUEThere are some beautiful moral values / lessons we can see and learn from this novel. The moral values /lessons are BRAVE, KINDHEARTED, STEALING IS WRONG, PERSEVERANCE (NEVER GIVING UP),SENSIBLE (QUICK THINKING), SENSITIVE (NOT SELFISH), HONESTY and FRIENDLY. In this post, Iwill share three of them.Moral Value 1 - Brave Example : In chapter 5, the children managed to save the train andstop a very bad accident from happening.One day, Roberta, Peter and Phyllis saw a landslide whichblocked the railway line.The girls used their red petticoats to make flags.The train was moving veryfast.Bobbie braved herself and ran on to the railway line and waved her flags.The train finally stopped justtwenty metres from Bobbie. The childrens bravery saved the people on the rain from meeting with anawful accident and from getting killed.Moral Value 2 - Kindhearted Example : In chapter 3, the childrens mother was ill and had to stay in bed. DrForrest came to check on their mother and told Bobbie her mother needed milk and fruit and some otherspecial things to eat in order to get well. They couldnt afford to buy them, so the children decided to askhelp from the old gentleman. The old gentleman was a kind enough to provide them with all the thingsthey had asked and some they had not.Moral Value 3 - Stealing Is Wrong
Example : In chapter 2, Peter and his two sisters stole some coal from the station yard.They took the coal back to their house.One day, the station master caught Peter red handed stealingcoal in the station yard.Peter and his two sisters admitted to helping Peter with his crime. The stationmaster warned them not to repeat it again and let them go. The children realised that stealing was wrong.They repented and never took any coal from the station yard again.
THE RAILWAY CHILDREN-SETTINGS There are 3 types of settings in this novel :- Place, Social, Cultural Place Place - House in London Place - The cottage in the countryside
Place - The Railway StationPlace - The Railway Tunnel
Place - The Village Social Social - Edwardian Type Of Clothes Social - Edwardian Type Of Clothes
Social - Coals used for steam engine trainsSocial - Coals used as fuel in steam engine trains Cultural
Cultural - Having TeaCultural - High Hats & Long Coats
PLOT SUMMARY : THE RAILWAY CHILDRENCHAPTER 1: THE BEGINNING OF THINGSOne night at their home in London, father, mother, Roberta(also known asBobbie), Peter and Phyllis are talking about Peter‟s broken model engine whenthere is a knock on the front door. Two gentlemen come to see father and talkfor a long time. Father speaks briefly with mother and mysteriously leaves home.The next morning, mother leaves for London and returns in the evening, lookingtired. She requests the children to be good while she is away and not to ask anyquestion about father. Several horrid weeks pass by and one morning, mothertells the children that they are moving to a little white house near railway linein the country. They take the train and arrive at their new home in the dark.CHAPTER 2: PETER AND THE COALThe family do not get a decent supper as they think Mrs. Viney has notprepared it for them. Mother prepares what she can and off they go to bed. Thenext morning, the children wake up feeling excited in their new home. Theydiscover that a nearby field backs onto a railway line but the railway station istoo far to see from where they are. Before supper the children decides to go tothe railway station. They have a lot to see and a large heap of coal catchesPeter‟s attention. When Peter steals coal from the station yard, he is caught bythe Station Master. Peter thinks that taking some coals from the middle of theheap is harmless. The Station Master warns them that what they have done isstealing because the coal belongs to the railway station. It is only then theyrealize what they have done is wrong.CHAPTER 3: THE OLD GENTLEMANBy now the children know the time when the trains pass. Every morning, theywill wave to an old gentleman who always waves back at them. They pretendedthat the old man knows their father and takes their love to him in London. One
day, their mother becomes very ill and Bobbie resolves to do something positive tohelp. The children paint the words, “LOOK OUT AT THE STATION” on a largewhite sheet and wave it at the 9.15 train the next day. When the train is aboutready to leave, Phyllis passes a letter to the Old Gentleman. In the evening, alarge box of supplies is delivered to the children with all the things they haveasked for.CHAPTER 4: BOBBIE‟S RIDEWhen their mother finally recovers from her illness, they confess to her whatthey have done earlier. The family later celebrates Bobbie‟s 12th birthday, alldressed in their best. Bobbie receives various presents from the family includingPeter who reluctantly has to give her the broken half of his toy train filled withsweets. Her lovely birthday party however ends on a sad note when she realizesthat her mother is very upset later that night. Bobbie secretly wants to repairPeter‟s broken train. She goes to the station and accidentally gets into the engineof one of the trains. Feeling scared, she seeks help from two railway workers.The two men not only repair the toy but also make sure she arrives home safely.Weeks later, Bobbie introduces Peter and Phyllis to the friendly engine driverand Jim, the fireman.CHAPTER 5: SAVING THE TRAINThe children witness a landslide that covers the railway line. The childrenprevent an imminent accident by waving the girls‟ red petticoats. The traincomes to rest just in time, at about twenty metres from where Bobbie stands onthe tracks. Weeks later, a ceremony is held at the station to commemorate thechildren‟s bravery. The Old Gentleman presents the children with a gold watcheach and meets their mother at home. The children relay that eventful day totheir mother.CHAPTER 6: A BIRTHDAY FOR PERKS
THE CHILDREN‟S MOTHER HAS JUST SOLD A STORY AND SUGGESTSHAVING SOME CAKES FOR TEA. BOBBIE REQUESTS THAT THEYHAVE IT ON PERKS‟S BIRTHDAY AND MOTHER AGREES. PETERCOMES UP WITH AN IDEA TO ASK THE VILLAGERS FOR LITTLEGIFTS, CONFIDENT THAT THEY WILL GIVE SOMETHING TO APERSON AS NICE AS PERKS. SOME OF THE VILLAGERS AREDELIGHTED WITH THE IDEA BUT OTHERS, SUCH AS MRS. RANSOMESIMPLY BRUSHES THEM OFF. THE THREE CHILDREN, HOWEVER, GOHOME AND COLLECT SEVERAL ROSES FOR MRS. RANSOME SINCE ITIS HER BIRTHDAY. THAT KIND GESTURE TOUCHES MRS. RANSOME‟SHEART AND SHE GIVES THE CHILDREN SEVERAL APPLES AS WELLAS HER DEAD GRANDCHILD‟S PRAM FOR PERKS‟S SON. THECHILDREN BRING THE GIFTS TO PERKS‟S HOUSE AND WAIT FOR HISARRIVAL SO AS TO SURPRISE HIM. IN SPITE OF THIS, PERKSBECOMES UPSET AS HE SEES THE GIFTS AS A FORM OF CHARITY.THE CHIDREN EXPLAIN THAT THESE GIFTS ARE GIVEN SINCERELYAND PERKS RELENTS. HE ASKS THE THREE CHILDREN TO STAYFOR TEA.CHAPTER 7: THE TERRIBLE SECRETBOBBIE DISCOVERS THE REASON FOR HER FATHER‟SDISAPPEARANCE WHEN SHE READS THE NEWSPAPER ARTICLE.DEEPLY UPSET, SHE REFUSES TO BELIEVE THAT HE IS A SPY ANDIS IMPRISONED. HER MOTHER ATTEMPTS TO EXPLAIN THAT HERFATHER HAS BEEN FALSELY ACCUSED OF SELLING GOVERNMENTSECRETS TO ANOTHER COUNTRY. BOBBIE BELIEVES IN HERFATHER‟S INNOCENCE AND DECIDES TO WTITE TO THE OLDGENTLEMAN TO CLEAR HIS NAME.CHAPTER 8: THE BOY IN THE RED SHIRT
THE BOY IN RED GOES MISSING DURING A „HARE AND HOUNDS‟GAME ORGANISED BY THIER SCHOOL. BOBBIE AND HER SIBLINGSENTER THE DARK RAILWAY TUNNEL TO LOOK FOR HIM. THEY FINDHIM LYING BY THE RAILWAY TRACK WITH A BROKEN LEG. BOBBIESTAYS WITH THE INJURED BOY, JIM, IN THE DARK TUNNEL WHILEPETER AND PHYLLIS SEEK HELP FORM THE FARM. THECHILDREN TAKE JIM HOME FOR MEDICAL ATTENTION. THEYLATER LEARN THAT JIM IS THE GRANDCHILD OF THE OLDGENTLEMAN WHOM THEY HAVE MET EARLIER. THE OLDGENTLEMAN VISITS THE LITTLE WHITE HOUSE WHERE JIM ISTAKEN CARE OF. MOTHER OFFERS HERSELF TO TAKE CARE OF JIMUNTIL HE GETS BETTER. THE OLD GENTLEMAN IS GRATEFUL TOTHE FAMILY. WHEN THE OLD GENTLEMAN LEAVES THE HOUSE, HEHAS A PRIVATE CHAT WITH BOBBIE ABOUT HER FATHER. HE SAYSTHAT HE HAS RECEIVED THE LETTER AND HAS BEEN LOOKINGINTO THE CASE. HE BELIEVES THAT HER FATHER IS INNOCENT.CHAPTER 9: THE MAN AT THE STATIONTHE CHILDREN WAVE AT THE PASSING 9.15 TRAIN AND ALL THEPASSENGERS RESPOND. AT THE STATION, AN OVERJOYED MR.PERKS, WHO HAS READ ABOUT BOBBIE‟S FATHER IN THENEWSPAPER, GREETS HER. A LONDON TRAIN STOPS AT THESTATION AND BOBBIE SEES HER FATHER RETURN AFTER SERVINGHIS SENTENCE IN PRISON. THEY RETURN HOME HAPPY ANDREUNITED.