The Railway Children

by Edith Nesbit

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Who brings the boxes and crates inside the new house in The Railway Children?

Quick answer:

The cart man, also referred to as "the man who drove the cart," is the person who brings all the boxes and crates inside the new house in chapter 1 of The Railway Children, which is titled "The Beginning of Things." Prior to the cart man, the only other character who is engaged in putting the place together is Mrs. Viney.

Expert Answers

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The novel The Railway Children begins with a very telling introduction:

They were not railway children to begin with.

It tells the story of a once very happy family whose luck changes, and the mother and her children need to learn to adapt to a new way of life. In the first chapter, titled "The Beginning of Things," the reader learns that something has happened to the father—we later learn that he was sent to prison unfairly—and that now the mother must somehow lead the family into a new home, new expectations, and new beginnings.

When they have to move from their beautiful home in the city into a simple house in the country, they depend on a Mrs. Viney to put the new house together, and on the driver, or "the man who drives the cart," to put their things in the house.

The reader can sense the melancholy when "only the ugly things" are put into boxes, while the "pretty things" have to be left behind in the former home. We assume, as readers, that these things will be returned, auctioned off, or sold to make up for the new financial situation the family is about to encounter.

However, the actions of the man who drives the cart and Mrs. Viney, while they may seem minor, offer a little glimpse into what will become a story about kindness, cooperation, mutual help, self-sufficiency and survival in a world lacking in the resources that the family once had. It is a new life that they are trying to understand, but only generosity, empathy, compassion and kindness will be they keys to survive these changes.

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