How do Ben and the rest of the Lovatt children interact?

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Ben’s siblings are Luke, Helen, Jane, and Paul. The four children fear their baby brother. This is because he exhibits strange traits. For instance, he yanks Paul’s hand, through the cot bars, so vigorously that the arm sprains. On this occasion Paul is rescued by Dorothy and Alice, and afterward, when the other children hear of the incident, they show little surprise almost as if their fears about their baby brother have been confirmed:

That evening the children heard what had happened, but they did not look at their parents and Dorothy and Alice. They did not look at each other. They stood silent, heads bent. This told the adults that the children’s attitudes toward Ben were already formed: They had discussed Ben and knew what to think about him.

On another occasion, he is suspected to have killed a terrier, and on yet another, a cat. After these incidents, Ben’s siblings are wary of him. They know that he is not normal and that he can hurt them if he so chooses. Ben, on the other hand, shows little emotion towards his siblings. He seems lost in his own alien world, totally unable to connect with any member of the family.

Ben learns to talk when he is over two years old. He talks in full sentences, and his siblings are supportive of his attempts at speech. They are happy to know that he talks normally and congratulate him for his effort at talking. They even teach him appropriate responses to given questions. Ben learns to watch his older siblings Luke and Helen all the time. He knows that they are older than the rest and uses them as role models for social behavior. Even though there are these brief moments of almost normal interaction between Ben and his siblings, they are all happy when he is taken away to live in a secret facility. When his mother brings him back home, nobody knows what to do. The children are affected by his presence:

The children were in front of the television, but were not watching it. Jane and Paul were crying.

Later on, they all welcome him at the meal table, they all say “Hello Ben” and he responds after looking keenly at their faces to identify who were his real friends. Of all of Ben’s siblings, Paul is the most affected by his presence. This is because Ben is his immediate follower and always takes away a large portion of his mother’s attention from him.

When Ben turns five, Luke and Helen go to boarding school. Later on, Jane moves to live with her Aunt Sarah and Dorothy, and Paul and Ben remain alone in the house with their parents. Luke and Helen specifically say that they want to go away because they do not like Ben. The family splits up contrary to Harriet and David’s expectations.

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