1. Frances Hodgson Burnett liked happy endings so much that she called herself "Mrs. Romantick." She believed that it was possible to transform reality by thinking positively. How does positive or negative thinking affect the lives of Mary, Colin, Dickon, and Mr. Craven?
2. How does the garden function as a metaphor for the way Mary and Colin are at the start of the novel? Trace the ways this metaphor is realized or fleshed out in the course of the novel. In what ways does the garden's transformation into a mother figure that protects, nurtures, and teaches, alter this metaphor?
3. Some critics believe that the novel's shift from Mary to Colin makes it ultimately Colin's story. Others claim that the story is really that of Mary's triumphant transformation of herself and of Colin. Whose story is The Secret Garden? Why?
4. At the time The Secret Garden was written, children were rarely presented in a negative way. More typical of the time is Burnett's Little Lord Fauntleroy, whose central character is a sweet, ideal child. Compare both works, paying particular attention to which characters grow the most and how they do so. Which of the central characters is most satisfying: Mary, Colin, Little Lord? Why?
5. Although Dickon is an important character, he remains one-dimensional: he does not change dramatically during the story. What is his role in the novel? Why is it necessary that he remain a one-dimensional character?