It is a fact that it takes experience before one can realize what is a catastrophe and what is not. Children have little faculty of distinguishing between disaster and the ordinary course of their lives.
This quote refers to the character of 10-year-old Emily’s reaction to the hurricane that has destroyed her home in Jamaica at the start of the novel. What is remarkable about this quote is it could also reference all the action that has yet to take place, as Emily and her siblings go on to sail to England without their parents and are subsequently captured by pirates. By the end of the book, they are back to living more normal lives and, as after the hurricane, Emily just rolls with it.
Jamaica had faded into the past: England, to which they had supposed they were going, and of which a very curious picture had formerly been built up in their minds by their parents’ constant reference to it, receded again into the mists of myth. They lived in the present, adapted themselves to it, and might have been born in a hammock and christened at a binnacle before they had been there many weeks.
This quote points again to the children’s adaptability in the face of extraordinary trials and circumstances and how they move from their relatively comfortable colonialist lifestyle in Jamaica to being children at sea, living a more rough-and-tumble life. This adaptability will get them through everything that is yet to come.
Jonsen was by her in a second, caught her up, and carried her, sobbing miserably, down into the cabin. There sat Margaret, bending over some mending, her slim shoulders hunched up, humming softly and feeling deadly ill.
"Get out!" said Jonsen, in a low, brutal voice. Without a word or sign Margaret gathered up her sewing and climbed on deck.
This quote points to the exact moment when Emily, pursued by the pirate Captain Jonsen, becomes powerless to avoid him, gets injured, and is taken and confined to his cabin. Although later the children gain their power back to where the crew of the ship are afraid of them and want to unload them onto a different ship, this quote occurs at a pivotal moment in the menacing captain’s favor when both Emily and Margaret are at his mercy.