This book, as any book dealing with innocence and experience as themes, is about how the choices we make mold our future. Trond's life is no different. He is innocent as a child and remains so until the decisions his father makes effects the entire family--both through the danger and risk of the patriarch's decisions to be part of the resistance in Norway and his immediate disappearance as a result. Trond is forever influenced by his father's disappearance the the ideas of what his father had risked to stand up for what is right as well as the torture he may or may not be suffering as a result. Either way, Trond if forced to forego innocent childhood and grow up quickly to fill his father's shoes as the man of the house.
As a result of Trond's childhood, his decision to move away from everything and live alone to read and learn, and the chance meeting of an old friend on a walk one day, Trond himself is an aloof parent and a friend at a distance. It is obvious that he distrusts people and this has a profound effect on the character and the story.