The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Peter Rushforth has created an unforgettable quartet of precisely delineated individuals made memorable through their thoughts and actions, their fears and preoccupations, their cherished possessions, and their unique relationships with one another.

Corrie, whose point of view informs Kindergarten, is an exceedingly talented sixteen-year-old, whose accomplishments include music composed for a production of a play by William Shakespeare, the organization of an Elizabethan consort, and an opera-in-progress. In addition, Corrie has a tendency toward introspection and analysis by allusion. In Corrie’s mind, all events are interconnected with other remembered events, stories, snatches of poetry or song, and the news on television, and all experience somehow comments on and reflects family life and home. Corrie’s favorite images in Lilli’s German paintings are of rooms, snug and secure with their doors shut against the exterior world or connected with other rooms in the same house, the details of those other rooms visible through open doors but the whole still secure from the outer world. These rooms remarkably similar in Corrie’s mind to the two Meeuwissen houses, linked through a connecting sun lounge connote the security of strong family ties and affection, contained by the doors shut against what he often thinks of as “the pressures of the outer world.”

Known to people in the town as a quiet, polite boy who is taking his mother’s death very well and helping his younger brothers cope, Corrie knows that he is more than the seemingly well-adjusted boy who smiles respectfully when he is greeted. He is “aware of depths within himself; little doors deep inside his head, doors that should never be opened.” His slightly-too-intense sense of family, his preoccupation with certain fairy tales in which children...

(The entire section is 756 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Corrie Meeuwissen

Corrie Meeuwissen (MOY-vihs-sehn), an introspective, analytical, and extremely talented sixteen-year-old. He has written music for a Shakespeare production and is currently working on an opera. He is known to people as a polite, quiet boy who is helping his younger brothers cope with the death of their mother in a terrorist attack and the absence of their father (who is in America helping to raise money for the families of the other victims in the attack). Corrie is intensely conscious of the pressures of the outer world that destroy childhood and threaten the existence of family ties and affection. Discovering a cache of letters and photographs from Jewish parents in Nazi Germany to the headmaster of an English boarding school, Corrie reads with horrified fascination the pleas of parents desperate for a safe place to which to send their children. To him, the letters merge inextricably with his favorite fairy tales, in which children are menaced by certain evil adults, and with news reports of children held hostage by terrorists. He finishes reading the letters on his sixteenth birthday, the day on which his artist grandmother gives him a new painting and shows him for the first time a photograph of her family, whom she lost in the Holocaust. On the same day, the hostage children are released. On that day, Corrie comes to terms with his approaching maturity.

Jo Meeuwissen


(The entire section is 506 words.)