The Railway Children

by Edith Nesbit

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How is the theme of resourcefulness and innovation represented in The Railway Children?

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The children often show their resourcefulness and ability to innovate in this story. One example is the following: The children are waiting for 11:29 train to go rushing by, when suddenly they see an avalanche:

rock and trees and grass and bushes, with a rushing sound, slipped right away from the face of the cutting and fell on the line with a blundering crash ...

The debris makes a huge mound right on the railroad tracks, and the children realize that if they don't do something, the train will come crashing right into it, causing a wreck.

They want to run to the station to warn the people working there to stop the train before it is too late, but they realize they don't have enough time. Instead, Phyllis and Bobbie think resourcefully and takes off their red flannel petticoats. Peter rips them up to make flags. The children then find sticks to attach the flannel to, and they stand by the edge of tracks waving the flags to alert the oncoming train there is danger ahead. The plan works, and the train stops before it hits the mound of dirt and rock blocking its path. The children are much applauded:

The praises they got for their “prompt action,” their “common sense,” their “ingenuity,” were enough to have turned anybody's head.

When the children need supplies for their sick mother that she can't afford to buy, they show resourcefulness again, as well as innovation. They take a sheet from the closet and paint a note on it for the old gentleman, so that he will know to "look out" for them at the station. He does, and they are able to get him a letter about their mother's needs, which he fulfills. Their mother is angry at them for asking for help, but the children have shown they can think creatively and use the resources they have at hand to get her needs met.

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