A FAMILY APART
The setting in A Family Apart is one of the most important things in the entire book. It influences absolutely everything . The mean streets of New York are the first example. They influence Francis' brother Mike to become a thief. That impacts the entire plot, by setting up the story for the kids to travel West. If the setting had been a few years earlier, or even a few later, the orphan train might not exist. That would mean that the kids would have had quite a tougher life. The setting again changes the entire premise as the children go to the West. There, slavery is still thriving and it affects everyone involved, "Then Francis noticed a black man being led past the train by two men who carried guns with long black barrels Flickers of light sparked from the wide metal cuffs that dug into the mans wrists and were attached to the chains one captor was holding" (Nixon 70). If it weren't for the prominence of slavery in the South West, Francis would have been formed into an entirely different person with different values and morals. Obviously, the setting in the story had an exponential effect on the events.
Joan Lowery Nixon conveyed many lessons throughout Francis Mary's development, but the most important was one that might not have been as obvious. She taught that second chances can change your entire life. The first example of this is Francis' little brother Mike. He starts life out being a rough and tough thief, but when he gets caught the judge see's a glimmer of hope and grants him a second chance. The judge is going to send Mike West, and the children's mother see's a second chance for all her kids to have good lives with this. She sends them all to the West to find new and good families who can provide for them. After Ma sends them away, Francis figures out that she needs to fend fro her youngest brother Pete, so she masquerades as a boy. She keeps her disguise a secret until she can't stand it anymore. When she finally admits to her step-family that she is truly a girl, they couldn't be prouder "And it was Margaret' voice she heard soothing her, saying, 'Oh, Frankie, I love having a daughter!" (Nixon 160). Her new family saw the good in her and gave her a second chance, just as the judge had done for Mike, and her mother the West. Second chances shaped Francis Mary's entire existence, from her parents immagrating, to her siblings moving, even to something as simple as her adoptave families acceptance of her. As can be seen, the most important lesson to be learned from Joan Lowery Nixon's A Family Apart, is that second chances can change the course of history, for better or for worse.
Francis Kelly has a few major character changes throughout the text of Joan Lowery Nixon's A Family Apart. Everyone in the book sacrificed something to make everything work out okay, Francis went above everyone else and sacrificed her identity. "In a few minutes Frances, dressed in boys' clothes, hair cropped short, raced back into the building" (Nixon 54). She masqueraded as a boy to do as much work as she could so her new family would have no issues with her, or a reason to send either her or her brother home, like she did at home for the rest of the family at work in New York. She grew up with a lot of heart and compassion in the city, but it is extremely hard to show much emotion in such a rough place. When she made it to the countryside, she found that it was easier to show emotion, but it could be a lot more dangerous. She can show her compassion in private, but can she share it with the world? Especially when her family is harboring a slave on their way to freedom. In the city all she would do would be alerting the police, but in Kansas, she has a sense of responsibility and protects everyone her family helps. Clearly, Francis went through some severe changes in her character.