Themes and Characters
The Boxes is the story of Annie Levi, a shy, obedient fifteen-year-old girl whose life is ruled by others. Her parents are dead, and she lives in a large old house with her Aunt Ruth, a nasty, chain-smoking, fat banker who verbally abuses Annie. "You always were an ungrateful brat" is one of Aunt Ruth's typical remarks to Annie. If there is a failing in the characterization in The Boxes, it is with Aunt Ruth, who is given no positive qualities to offset her meanness. Annie even fears that Aunt Ruth would kill her if she saw profit in it. Perhaps the portrait of Aunt Ruth is a product of Annie's biases, for Annie is the novel's narrator.
On the other hand, Annie adores her Uncle Marco, who has "thick black hair": "He had a narrow face with a strong nose and cleft chin, and pale blue eyes. He was very good looking." Annie notes that "Uncle Marco looked uncannily young," which is an early clue about what Uncle Marco does on his mysterious trips. He is not around the house much, even though he is allowed to live there, and this means that most of the time he is not available to help Annie and to protect her from Aunt Ruth. Although Annie completely admires Uncle Marco, this seems selfish of him, particularly when what he usually does on his trips is revealed. Annie very much needs a strong, fatherly figure in her life, and Uncle Marco cops out.
At the start of the novel, he chooses an odd way of helping her gain some power in her...
(The entire section is 1418 words.)
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