Escape to Witch Mountain Analysis
by Alexander Key

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Escape to Witch Mountain Analysis

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

For the most part, Escape from Witch Mountain is an exciting adventure story. Tony and Tia are sympathetic orphans, Father O’Day is a friendly helper, and Lucas Deranian is an evil villain. Alexander Key does more, however, than simply tell a good story. He also paints an unattractive portrait of human society and, in contrast, creates a sense of wonder and magic through Tony and Tia.

The novel follows a fairly conventional plot. The two main characters are orphans searching for their home and people. In order to find both, they must go on a journey filled with perils. Before they even begin their quest, they have to escape the orphanage and find their way to Father O’Day’s mission. During the journey, they encounter several more obstacles to overcome: being arrested by a greedy sheriff, being hunted by superstitious townsfolk, and being chased by unscrupulous villains. After several near escapes and chases, and with the help of Father O’Day, they eventually find their way to Witch Mountain, where the rest of their people have settled.

Although Key provides a simple plot, his settings and the societies through which the two children move are slightly more complex. Tony and Tia have been living in a run-down neighborhood in a tenement building. It is an ugly world that they leave with the social worker, only to arrive at the more unpleasant world of Hackett House. The orphanage is ruled by the grim Mrs. Grindley, who locks them out of the library and is always inclined to believe the worst. Tia’s Star Box is stolen soon after they arrive, and Tony has to fight a bully armed with a homemade blade in order to get it back. When the children are allowed a trip to Heron Lake, it is a run-down camp, obviously used for city kids. The only seeming bright spot in this environment is Father O’Day, who runs a mission down by the waterfront.

When Tony and Tia leave the city, they go to a small rural town and are immediately arrested by Chief Purdy. It becomes apparent that the chief is much more interested in the reward for their capture than he is in truth, justice, or compassion. He threatens to beat Tony with a belt so that he can get the truth, even though Tony has already told it to him. When Tony uses his powers to escape, Purdy labels him a witch and has the entire countryside hunting for them with guns. In fact, they are shot at as they approach one farm.

The world that Key depicts is one filled with greed and prejudice. Tony and Tia’s Uncle Bene was killed as he tried to free them from the control of the Communist government in Hungary, which wanted to use the children’s...

(The entire section is 718 words.)