Archetypes in They Cage the Animals at Night

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A theme is defined as a central message or issue addressed in any literary work. There are countless themes that cover various topics anywhere from the power of nature to the power of love. In They Cage the Animals at Night by Jennings Michael Burch, several themes and messages are applied. All of the characters, mainly Jennings, display the themes through their actions and emotions. Some themes in this novel are alienation and isolation, coming of age, and the great journey. From the moment his mom says the words “I’ll be right back”(Burch 4) to the moment he is left standing in the playroom, Jennings experiences true loneliness. This is why the theme alienation and isolation fits this novel. Even though physically children are all around him, Jennings still feels alone and abandoned by the people he loves dearly. He is left to deal with hateful and abusive nuns all by himself. Just when Jennings thinks he finds the companionship of a friend or loved one, he or she seems to be stripped away from him time after time. His friends Mark and Stacy, his mother, his brothers, his kitten Midnight, and other people he loves are taken away from him one way or another. Some of them return to Jennings, but unfortunately some do not. The orphanages are not the only places Jennings experiences alienation and isolation. He is also exposed to it when he is sent to numerous different foster homes. For example, when he goes to stay with the Carpenter family, Mrs. Carpenter either makes stay at a little table or in a cold dark room, either way Jennings is all by himself. He has nowhere to go and has to endure her constant torture until he is sent away by Mr. Carpenter. Lastly he experiences it when sleeps in the zoo at night when nobody is around except for an occasional patrolling guard. The only thing Jennings has to cope with his loneliness is his stuffed animal Doggie. Through

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