“London is poised on the brink of World War II. Timid, scrawny Willie Beech-the abused child of a single mother-is evacuated to the English countryside. At first, he is terrified of everything, of the country sounds and sights, even of Mr. Tom, the gruff, kindly old man who has taken him in. But gradually Willie forgets the hate and despair of his past. He learns to love a world he never knew existed, a world of friendship and affection in which harsh words and daily beatings have no place. Then a telegram comes. Willie must return to his mother in London. When weeks pass by with no word from Willie, Mr. Tom sets out for London to look for the young boy he has come to love as a son”.
In the book Good Night Mr. Tom, there are many themes that are found throughout the book. These themes include:
Friendship, Family, Finding Oneself, Life, Death, Fitting In, Grieving, Motivation, Control, Freedom and Growth.
For this Project I decided to create a collage using pictures and quotes found within the book to represent events in this book that revolve around these central themes.
Collage: Growth in Willie through his life Experiences
London Bridge: Family Roots, Past Life, New Beginnings
London was the place of birth to Willie.
He was born into a family with a abusive single mom and father who was killed in WWII.
London bridge symbolizes the place where Willie was from, not only physically but mentally.
Willie received paints for his birthday from Tom, and immediately began to paint.
He had such a natural talent, he had finally found something that he was good at and others saw it in him too.
This ability made Willie feel self conscious at first, he was embarrassed to draw any positive attention to himself but over time, embraced his talent and recognition and was able to be happy with receiving praise for a job well done.
This was the first time Willie was able to feel what it was like to be around friends in a healthy type of play.
In his past playing was not allowed with his mother, Willie had no self esteem as well as no friends because of his mothers strict unrealistic views on children.
Interactions with friends was the beginning of Willie realizing his self worth as well as a chance to see how others really viewed him.
His friends cared about him, and he cared about them
Theater Faces: Friendship/Growth
The first play that Willie really gave him the confidence to go out and try new things. This also gave his peers the idea to not to be afraid to act and try new things too.
He was beginning to come out of his shell around his peers.
Nature Trail: Life
The peaceful, tranquil trails found all throughout the town of Weirwold if where Willie was given a second chance at life.
Being brought to this town as an evacuee from London, he was experienced to not only the sights, smells, and sounds of the country, but also a life outside the one he left behind in London with his mother.
Tom became a caregiver, mentor, and father to Willie. They would walk the trails to town, school, and even with Sammy the dog. The trails and untouched ways of the woods allowed Tom to show Willie all that was never be exposed to and probably never be exposed to if he was never sent as an World War II evacuee from London
Ocean Waves: Freedom, Purity
The waves of the ocean represent the turbulence and also freedom William has experienced through living with Tom as an evacuee.
He has been able to wash away all of the bad memories of his past and let go of the feelings of guilt, betrayal, and mistrust.
This also symbolizes one of the last memories William has of Zack, his best friend.
Zack was William’s first real friend in his life, they did everything together and learned and grew from each other.
“It seemed as if his mind had suddenly opened and all his worries, painful memories and fears were flooding to the surface and drifting away” (p. 258)
After struggling with the death of his best friend Willie had finally accepted it.
Riding his bike was one of Zack’s favorite things to do.
After Zack’s death Willie had a lot of support from the many people he had met. Many offered helpful advice: “Better to accept than pretend that he never existed” (299) said one of his teachers Mr. Sanderton’s
Willie never learned to ride a bike until Zack died.
Learning how to ride Zack’s bike was a way to move on from the loss.
“No one can take the memories away, and I can talk to him when I want” (305)
Meditation: Growth, Life
At the end of the book William has been able to recognize himself as a son, a friend, and an individual.
The ability of him to do that is shown in his ability to admit that he is growing up and becoming his own self.
The very last sentence of the book stated by Willie to Tom “Dad….I’m growing!” (318)