The Railway Children

by Edith Nesbit

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What are two character traits of the Old Gentleman and Roberta in The Railway Children?

Quick answer:

In The Railway Children, the Old Gentleman is kind and compassionate as he gets to know the children and helps their family. Roberta is kindhearted and courageous, willing to take the initiative to get things done even at a risk to herself.

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E. Nesbit's The Railway Children is a delightful tale of a family that truly loves and supports one another and of an Old Gentleman who befriends them. Let's look closely at the characters of the Old Gentleman and Roberta.

The Old Gentleman waves to Roberta (called Bobbie), Peter, and Phyllis each day as his train passes the little white house where the children live. He is a friendly man who later proves that his friendliness can quickly turn to compassion when the children appeal to him for help when their mother becomes ill. When he receives their letter, he immediately sends a box of medicine and supplies. Later, when the children prevent a train wreck, the Old Gentleman expresses his gratitude with presents, and the children discover that he is the head of the railroad. This kind Old Gentleman even helps clear the children's father's name and reunite him with his family.

Bobbie is the responsible oldest sister. She is a kindhearted girl who takes the initiative to do what is right even if that means taking a risk. When the train is in danger because of a landslide, Bobbie stands right on the tracks to try to stop the train. Her courage is outstanding for a girl of only twelve. What's more, Bobbie takes the initiative to reach out to the Old Gentleman when her mother is sick and when she knows that her father needs help. Without her resourcefulness and determination, her family might not have been reunited. Bobbie also cares deeply about her siblings, even getting help from some of the railroad men to fix Peter's toy train.

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