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One of the main themes throughout Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman is the importance of community. Throughout the book, several Cleveland citizens from different walks of life come together and bond over planting seeds in a community garden lot on Gibb Street. Each person has his or her own unique story and background. The people are also different ages and ethnicities. Initially, some people harbor feelings of prejudice toward one another. Despite these differences, each person has the opportunity to plant seeds in the community garden. As the citizens plant their seeds, they become friends with each other and develop relationships with people in their community that they would have never approached had it not been for the garden. The garden offers the citizens a therapeutic way to deal with their issues as well as a chance to socialize with their neighbors. The garden on Gibb Street brings the community together, and each citizen becomes more tolerant and understanding of their neighbors.
The overriding theme of "Seedfolks" is the power of the individual to effect good in a society. Related themes include the challenge of community and the healing aspect of working with the land.
The story is centered around an informal urban garden, where individuals go to plant a variety of things for a variety of reasons. The planters include a refugee from war and victims of social isolation and economic downturn, and although at first the characters may seem insignificant, they each have a story to tell and a contribution to make to the garden, and, in a larger sense, the world. Ana, a retired white woman, provides the others with a sense of the history of the neighborhood, while Gonzalo shows how vitally important language is enabling newcomers to become independent and provide for themselves. Sam, a character modeled after the author himself, works to help the planters see the danger in segregating themselves from others according to their differences. In the haven of the little clearing of land, individuals learn to interact with each other, and as the garden grows, a community is formed, with the benefits and challenges that go with it. The characters subtly discover an escape from isolation in the company of others and in redeveloping a closeness to the earth.
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