Themes and Characters

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The unifying theme of The View from Saturday is the journey. Each of the five central characters makes a journey of the spirit, and the structure of the novel is held together by journeys. The most obvious journey is the collective one they take to the state championship. This journey forms the backbone of the novel, holding the disparate narrative strands together by providing a consistent background from beginning to end. It is also an important part of Mrs. Olinski's journey to the discovery of kindness in others.

The other journeys are individual and metaphorical. Mr. Singh and his son Julian regard life as if they are travelers on cruise ships who come together, share portions of their journeys, and then part to follow their own journey to its individual end. Noah Gershom's journey becomes entangled at different times with the journey to happiness of Margaret Draper and Izzy Diamondstein and then also with the journeys of the other Souls. At first unknown to him, his participation in the wedding of Margaret Draper and Izzy Diamondstein links his journey to that of Nadia Diamondstein, who is unhappy about the marriage, and whose father was supposed to be best man before Noah had to stand in for him.

One of the hallmarks of good characterization is that the characters grow during the narrative, and The View from Saturday has such growth in abundance. The novel is not a coming-of-age story though; instead, its main characters grow the way characters are supposed to grow in fiction for adults—they learn about themselves, especially their motivations and their capacity to do good, and they develop greater understanding of their environment and the people around them.

Those looking for a single protagonist of The View from Saturday may become frustrated in their search. Although Mrs. Olinski's journey helps bind the narrative together, the experiences of Noah, Nadia, Ethan, and Julian also help unite the novel, and their self-discoveries are as important as her own. Perhaps fittingly for a novel about intertwined...

(The entire section is 846 words.)