Fleischman addresses the complex issues of living in an imperfect world where one sometimes must accept less than perfect choices and make less than perfect decisions. So William must suffer silently under the tyrannical eye of Mr. Baggot. Offered the opportunity to escape, William reluctantly declines. He is torn in two directions at once. He loves his Indian heritage, but he also loves his kindly foster family and the learning which Mr. Currie provides him.
Saturnalia is one of those books that makes one wonder what the distinction is between literature for adults and literature for young adults, for the short novel is as complex, subtle, and thoughtful as any book for adults.