One of the best ways of analysing a work of fiction like this is to select a principal theme and then to investigate its presentation throughout the text. The theme of alienation and loneliness is very evident in this text, especially when we think about the character of Pearl Tull, who is quite clearly alienated from her own community. Her determination to raise her family by herself after Beck deserts her and the way in which she refuses to talk about Beck's desertion with those around her and even with her children leaves her incredibly lonely and alienated. The impact of this on her children's lives is obvious as they struggle with growing up in a single-parent family at a time when it was definitely not the norm.
Pearl's refusal to even try and integrate with others is something that Cody, her eldest son, in particular notices and deplores:
What he wouldn't give to have a mother who acted like other mothers! He longed to see her gossiping with a gang of women in the kitchen... He wished she had some outside connection, something beyond this suffocating house.
The text therefore explores the theme of alienation and loneliness through the central character of Pearl and the various struggles that she endures because of her determination to raise her children by herself.