Sarah, Plain and Tall

by Patricia MacLachlan

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Who were the neighbors who brought chickens in "Sarah, Plain and Tall"?

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Maggie and Matthew are a married couple who are the Wittings' neighbors to the south.  Matthew is a widower with two children and Maggie is his mail-order bride.  They bring a welcome present for Sarah in the form of two live chickens "for eating".  However, as Anna quickly suspects, Sarah names the chickens and turns them into pets instead of meat. 

These neighbors are very important in helping Sarah to adjust to the farm.  Maggie, having come from far away herself, is a friend that Sarah can connect with and confide in.  Just as Sarah needs Maggie, Maggie also needs Sarah.  Maggie is lonely with no other adult women around, and is happy that Sarah has come.

This scene with the chickens is very important also to the theme of the story.  There is a strong theme of sharing.  Papa and the children must learn to share their home and their love with Sarah, and Sarah must learn to share her love with them.  The giving of the chickens is a form of sharing, and the friendship between the women is another form.  They will share their experiences with each other and take comfort in the companionship.

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