In the book "Housekeeping" by Marilynne Robinson, in chapter 4 what was the whole deal with Sylvie being missing for a while and then not wanting to come upstairs? The author made it sound like...

In the book "Housekeeping" by Marilynne Robinson, in chapter 4 what was the whole deal with Sylvie being missing for a while and then not wanting to come upstairs? The author made it sound like such a dramatic thing and I don't quite understand what happened in this part of the book. I'm only on chapter four, so don't answer if it spoils anything.

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Sylvie has a past life of transience and still feels restless when confined to a single location.  Ruth and Lucille sort of know this about Aunt Sylvie.  Ruth and Lucille are also sort of drifters and transients as well, although it is NOT by their own choice.  They are orphans and have been moved from house to house, caregiver to caregiver for quite some time now.  They are currently under the care of Aunt Sylvie, who they deem quite mysterious (because of her habit of drifting from place to place). 

In Chapter 4, a massive flood has hit the town.  Sylvie's house even floods, which it normally does not do.  Ruth, Lucille, and Sylvie are all confined to the upstairs area of the house while they wait for the waters to recede.  At one point the three of them go downstairs together.  It is dark, really dark down there.  Sylvie becomes very quiet, and Ruth and Lucille can't find her.  They of course begin to fear the worst.  They believe that Sylvie has abandoned them in favor of drifting to a new location. The fear is legitimate.  The girls have been moved from foster care to foster care before, and Sylvie reminded them that the state has the power to take them away from her and move them again. The girls do not want this to happen again, so when Sylvie appears to have gone missing, the girls feel like they are unwanted again.  

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