Lois Lowry Questions and Answers

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What did Matty find odd about the Trade Mart in The Messenger?  

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Trade Mart is an old custom in Village. It's also a very strange one. Matty expects it to be like a market day, a happy occasion full of light-hearted banter. But nothing could be further from the truth. Right from the get-go, he senses there's something not quite right; there's an atmosphere of worry about the place. And no one seems to have brought any goods to sell, making it a funny kind of trade mart, if ever there was one. Instead, people stand around tensely, with their arms folded or down by their sides.

When the Trademaster arrive,s the trading finally starts in earnest. But the things that people trade are not what you'd ordinarily see at a market: Claire trades her youth for finding her son; Ramon's parents trade Ramon's and his sister's health for a Gaming Machine; and Mentor trades his honor for the removal of an unsightly birthmark.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Matty found it strange that none of the people who came to the Trade Mart seemed to have anything to trade.


Seer had never attended Trade Mart, and was proud of it.  This made Matty curious, because Trade Mart was an old tradition and he wanted to know how it worked.  So he decided to try it.

The Trade Mart is not what Matty expected.

There was an intentness to everyone, an odd seriousness, and a sense of worry—unusual in the village—pervaded the atmosphere. (p. 56)

Matty realizes that the place is strange and this is why Seer did not want him to come.  When Mentor asks him if he is participating, he says he has nothing to trade.  Mentor assures him that everyone has something.

When Matty returns, he explains to Seer how the Trade Mart worked.  People yelled out what they were trading, and whispered what they were trading for.  He realizes that people are trading for intangible things, and Mentor’s birthmark is gone.

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