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She makes no attempt to understand them and goes as far as to exaggerate her sighting, telling Campfurl she has discovered hundreds of little people. It is appropriate that no one except the Boy should believe her, for hateful, vindictive liar that she is, she possesses neither sympathy nor understanding of the Borrowers.
The Boy grows to develop these qualities of sympathy and understanding. May tells Kate, he was a sensitive, weak, insecure child: He was our little brother. I think that was why … he told us such impossible stories, such strange imaginings. He was jealous, I think, because we were older—and because we could read better.
The Borrowers Avenged
He wanted to impress us; he wanted, perhaps, to shock us. And yet … there was something about him—perhaps because we were brought up in India among mystery and magic and legend—something that made us think that he saw things that other people could not see. As the story develops, he participates in activities no other human being has, for not only does he meet and talk to Borrowers, he actually sees their home. This occurs because, as his sympathy and understanding increase, he earns the right to know them.
For example, it is the Boy who analyzes the group psychology of the Borrowers: It was because they were frightened, he thought, that they had grown so small. We need not be surprised to learn that in his later life he became a colonel and died a hero's death. His summer with the Borrowers was a turning point in his life. The Boy is also one of the three people who tell the story and, as such, is part of the link in which point of view moves steadily away from actual seeing of the Borrowers to imaginative insight.
He is the appropriate link between the Clock family and his sisters and brothers and through them Kate, for he not only views, he also understands.
May and Kate never see the Borrowers but do achieve strong imaginative insight. The old lady is a kind of Borrower herself, living on other people and taking from Arrietty's diary and her brother's accounts the details of a story which she weaves into a narrative which has imaginative realty for her.
In fact, as a girl, she had, in an act of faith in their existence, borrowed materials to take to the Clocks in the field. But what most indicates her belief in the Borrowers is her statement to Kate: They can go on and on and on. It's just that sometimes, at a certain point, one stops telling them. May's greatest achievement is her transmission of her imaginative sympathy and insight to Kate.
She says to the girl: Perhaps it was a real thing. I just don't know. As she begins her narration, "Her eyes slid away into the distance," 6 and, in the twilight of the breakfast room, she brings a world long past to life for Kate.
Yet she never forces Kate to accept what she says, giving detail tentatively and, even at the end, casting some uncertainty over the story. It is as if she feels that the girl must come to her own belief and faith. In Kate, she finds a receptive audience, the young girl liking the twilight sadness of the breakfast room and almost intuitively understanding from the beginning the details of the Borrowers' lives. May to leave the lamp off so as to better listen to the story, and urges the old lady to tell her brother's story.
When the direct narrative is completed at the end of Chapter Eighteen, she tearfully exhorts Mrs. May to complete the story. Here, a significant event occurs: May and Kate, who have been sorting squares for quilting, work together putting the pieces together to complete the quilt. The act is symbolic, for they are as well completing the fabric of the story, piecing together the bits of information, using as stitching imaginative understanding, sympathy, and belief—their insight into the Borrowers.
It is significant that Kate, as she hypothesizes about the later life of the Clocks, using as her basis her understanding of their characters, is aided by Mrs. May, who with age has acquired a fuller understanding of human and Borrower nature. May has taught Kate to quilt, she now instructs her to better understand or "see" the Borrowers.
Thus, by the end of the novel, Kate, who has never literally sighted a Borrower, has, perhaps, as complete a comprehension of Pod, Homily, and Arrietty as anyone in the book. Thus we see that the human beings are more than plot devices and that the relationships between people and Borrowers and the point of view are central as- pects of the novel's meaning. In essence, the novel is about understanding and sympathy, about knowledge of self and about insight into other people and beings.
By seeing the story through the eyes of the Boy and then Mrs. May and Kate, the reader is able not only to understand the central characters, but also to trace and evaluate the narrators' growing insight. As mentioned, a major question is who earns the right to see the Borrowers.
Driver do not, and it is just that no one believes the latter when she does. Aunt Sophy has a partial right and even she only partly believes her own eyes. The Boy obviously has the right, and it is a tribute to him that Kate and Mrs.
May later decide to relive his story and finish it for him. Their imaginative insight is stronger than Mrs. Through this analysis we may hopefully better understand the greatness of Mary Norton's masterpiece, The Borrowers.
In addition to those elements generally mentioned by critics, the concepts related to "seeing" are central in unifying the work successfully and giving it its depth of meaning. How one responds to and reports what he sees is as important as seeing itself.
Actual seeing is not always believing, while believing does not always require actual sight. In fact, in the book only one person, the Boy, both sees and believes. For Pod, Homily, Mrs. Driver, and Campfurl, limited in both sight and insight, the future hopes are limited, while for Arrietty and the Boy, who see, learn, and sympathize, there is much hope.
For Kate, who will perpetuate their memories and who has grown to love and understand those whom she has never seen, there is also great hope. All quotations from The Borrowers are documented internally and are taken from The Borrowers Harcourt, However, the first three novels—The BorrowersThe Borrowers Afieldand The Borrowers Afloat —take some pains to erect a narrator-within-a-narrator frame around the chronicle of the Borrowers, each frame somewhat different from the others; The Borrowers Aloft and The Borrowers Avenged abandon that mode, relying straightforwardly on the omniscient, distant narrator, except for a direct address to the readers at the end of The Borrowers Afloat, and an epilogue at the end of The Borrowers Avenged.
Yet children are unlikely to recognize the reason for these inconsistencies. Nor have many adult critics given any of these books close readings. Although most of the latter are united in dubbing the Borrowers books "classic," they have so far dealt with these changes from book to book only impressionistically, failing to analyze them. Swinfen says in passing, "The enclosed narrative as a structural device is taken up and then dropped for no apparent reason.
Mary Norton and Emily Bronte ," is the only one that attempts rhetorical analysis, makes some provocative comparisons between Mrs. May, the internal narrator in the first book and Nellie Dean of Wuthering Heights; Davenport does not, however, recognize some of the changes in the later books, including the virtual abandonment of the internal narrator in The Borrowers Aloft.
She remarks only that "The structure of the sequels is sometimes clumsy. In old standbys like Wayne Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction and Scholes' and Kellogg's The Nature of Narrative, theories about narrative frames remain undeveloped in general considerations of "point of view.
Irwin have both considered framing devices and have, respectively, adopted condemnatory or cautious attitudes towards their use in fantasy, in keeping with their differing definitions of fantasy itself. In addition, this study will consider the direction in which these changes in form are moving over the entire series; rather than finding an organic unity in the series, it will speculate that these rhetorical changes are connected with a deepening commitment on Mary Norton's part to the notion of making her Borrower characters independent of all human beings—even those sympathetic to them—while at the same time she increasingly develops and emphasizes the allegorical significance of the Borrowers' story as an embodiment of the human condition in danger and prosperity.
I Throughout the series, whatever other changes may take place, the Borrower books belong clearly to that species of fantasy with which Irwin is principally concerned: The impossible premise in the Borrowers series is that, at least up until the early years of the twentieth century, a race of tiny people scaled about an inch or so to a foot existed, and that they did so by living, at that time, in the walls and other hidden cranies of structures where human beings led regulated, but careless enough lives to afford the Borrowers objects and food for scavenging i.
These Borrowers are also rather tentatively given a common provenance in the "little people" of folklore, grown even smaller through centuries of persecution and fear. This provenance no doubt contributes to the creation on Norton's part of what Gillian Avery calls a "powerful mythology.
Lewis and circumstantiality of detail in order to involve their readers in playing "the game of the impossible. The precision and circumstantiality with which she, in The Borrowers, describes the Clocks' home under the kitchen floorboards of Firbank Hall is an early example of her continuing abilities to envision and convey the studs and plaster, drain and gas pipes of the internal structure of human dwellings.
Here, as she usually does, she combines these solid manifestations of reality indicating a grasp of technology with a vision of the ways in which this rather lower-to-middle or middle-class Borrower family has ingeniously contrived a sitting room "papered with scraps of old letters out of waste paper baskets," which Mrs. Clock, houseproud woman that she is, arranged so that the handwriting, turned sideways, formed "vertical stripes", and have furnished it with the spoils of Mr. Clock's borrowing forays above the floorboards, among them "a lacquer trinket box, padded inside and with the lid open, which they used as a settle, and that useful standby—a chest of drawers made of match boxes.
If we are to go along with Irwin, we must recognize such realism as an essential part of the "rhetoric of fantasy," constituting the prime means of persuading readers to make an even greater temporary "willing suspension of disbelief" than is usually required of them by realistic fiction.
Irwin further insists that the writer of fantasy must stick to certain other rules in order to carry out a tour de force of persuasion; one of these is to project a level of "human involvement.
The chronicle of the Borrower Clock family as it unfolds is the adventurous story of familial survival after an initial holocaustic catastrophe and through a subsequent period of displacement and wanderings, not unsimilar to the disaporas that have afflicted groups of human beings from time immemorial, threatening and often annihilating their existence as groups. Moreover, the series is also a bildungsroman, in which Arrietty, the single child of Pod and Homily Clock, grows and develops from an overprotected and somewhat spoiled thirteen-year old to a seventeen-year old of experience and competence that in many ways surpass her parents'.
With the series spread out before us, we can certainly say that the persuasiveness of the Borrowers series as a fantasy, as well as its general excellence, lies in these rhetorical constants of circumstantial realism and of plot and character reflecting human concerns. One might further argue that the use of narrative frames in the first three books was still another persuasive effort on Norton's part to get her readers to play "the game of the impossible.
The Borrowers Avenged (The Borrowers #5) by Mary Norton
Yet frames involving internal narrators have certainly their own tradition of providing rhetorical authenticity for the stories they enclose, especially when the internal narrators are of the variety to which Conrad's Marlow belongs. An internal narrator such as he can become the yard stick of sanity combined with sensitivity by which to measure the meaning of the story.
May, the internal narrator of The Borrowersis, like Marlowe, in The Heart of Darkness, first seen through the eyes of an omniscient narrator and in the act of storytelling with the audience also clearly in view.
Where the frame is entirely in the first person, questions of reliability are frequently raised and are usually more subtle and less straightforwardly resolved than when the internal narrator is introduced by the omniscient narrator.
In this first book the omniscient narrator gives us few reasons to doubt Mrs. She herself does not participate in or act as witness of the central story, as Marlowe does in most of his; nevertheless, her absolute honesty seems a given in her retelling the story which her nine-year old brother told her of his convalescence from a childhood sickness with their Aunt Sophy at Firbank Hall where he meets Arrietty and contributes to the discovery and expulsion of the Clocks.
This impression is reinforced by the faith which her listener, young Kate, here exhibits in Mrs. An elderly relative living in Kate's parents' house, Mrs. May tells her brother's story to Kate while the two are crocheting "a bedquilt—in woolen squares" p. As Davenport points out, both the homeliness of the scene with its mundane female handiwork and the initial description of Mrs.
May as "not strict exactly, but she had that inner certainty which does instead," p. May as representative of that ordered normality which Nellie Dean with her needlework represented in Wuthering Heights. But, at least in The Borrowers, Mrs. May is wavering in belief in her brother's story; their mutual upbringing in mysterious India makes her sometimes think that "he saw things other people couldn't see" p.
May later found at Firbank Hall. The middle ground on which she stands seems finally to belong to that of a good storyteller, one versed in the art of the open question. Unlike Nellie Dean's, her attitude here is made to seem not just reasonable, but imaginative. While Nellie Dean's handiwork may contribute to the general atmosphere of normal domesticity, the crocheting of the bedquilt and the eventual putting it together play more than a casual part in this narrative. The making of the quilt calls attention to the story as artifact.
In the first chapter, Kate's loss of her crocheting needle elicits the first mention of the Borrowers, as possible culprits, and Kate's eager response draws out the story from Mrs.
In the penultimate chapter, we learn that the quilt has been growing as Mrs. May tells the story. She comes to the last square at a critical moment—a virtual cliff- hanger—with the ratcatcher, who has been called by Mrs.
Driver, the vicious housekeeper, about to gas the Clocks out of Firbank Hall. Only as she responds to further questions on Kate's part—and as the two of them piece the squares together to make the quilt—does Mrs. May reveal her brother's attempt to rescue the Clocks by hacking through a cellar grating.
Good stories, it seems, are, like quilts, often constructed cooperatively. In the last chapter, Mrs. May speculates about the possible future of the Borrowers, whom her brother did not see escape, but the Clocks' story is left virtually open-ended.
Good stories are, of course, not necessarily closed geometric structures, like quilts. Irwin claims that the writer of fantastic fiction asks the listener to play the "game of the impossible" with him or her. The presentation of Mrs. May as internal storyteller and Kate, as internal listener, while perhaps a more elaborate frame than Irwin would consider necessary in adult fantasy, constitutes a device which serves to set an example for the child reader of just how such a game is ideally played.
Going beyond Irwin's theory, one might say that Kate thus becomes the "implied reader in the text. A well-recognized purpose of frames, as Draudt notes, is to invite comparisons and often contrasts between those characters in the frame and those within the main story itself.
In the central story, we meet the Clocks as the last survivors of a large group of Borrowers who inhabited Firbank Hall in its heyday, when there were more humans from whom to borrow. They are no longer in contact with other Borrowers. Reduced from former prosperity, Pod and Homily have become reconciled to the security of an underground existence in which the view through the cellar grating affords the only glimpse of the green world without.
Pubescent Arrietty is not so content. When Pod, her father, is first spotted by the convalescent boy, a crisis takes place which forces the parents reluctantly to recognize that, against all Borrower custom, Arrietty, since there are no sons, must be trained in the art of borrowing. They are unwilling yet to admit that the "survival of race" p.
Arrietty's first venture above ground and into the garden is fateful; not only does it whet her appetite for fresh air and greenery, but it affords her the opportunity to meet the boy, to whom she tells her story over a period of time. In the short run, her contact with the boy leads first to a brief period of false and lulling prosperity with his help in borrowing and then to the catastrophe of expulsion and possible extermination.
In the long run, Arrietty's act of rebellion in becoming friends with the boy against her parents' warnings—persuading him to take a letter to some relatives who have already emigrated, they think, to a badger set in a nearby field—may be their salvation; this would make the garden meeting a kind of "fortunate fall. In the relationship between Mrs.
May, as the older generation and Kate, as the younger, there are also the faint stirrings of a generational struggle between Kate's desire to believe and Mrs.
As noted above, this scepticism is not strongly questioned nor does Mrs. May lose status as an imaginative human being for it, but the stage is set, perhaps unconsciously on Norton's part, for a role reversal in the next book, in which Kate controls the story. There Kate cultivates another internal narrator, whose faith in the Borrowers is stronger than Mrs.
Indeed, at the beginning of The Borrowers Afield, the omniscient narrator claims, adopting yet another rhetorical strategem, that Kate herself is the "writer" of the entire chronicle. Before turning to that development, however, one might take a glance back at the question of storytelling itself and find further parallels between frame and central story.
May, like the Clock family as a whole, constitutes the last survivor in this book; her brother and apparently all other close relatives are dead; as far as she is aware—just as borrowing will die with Pod if he doesn't pass it on to Arrietty—the story of the Borrowers will die with her, if she does not pass it on to another young girl; both these acts of passing on from generation to generation are seen here as necessary to the future survival of the Borrowers.
In its emphasis on storytelling, the frame of The Borrowers not only sets up Kate as "implied reader in the text" but also lends itself to a "deconstruction" which reveals the writer touching on the notion of art—here storytelling—as the ultimate survival mechanism. It was Kate who, long after she was grown up, completed the story of the borrowers.
She wrote it all out, many years later, for her four children, and compiled it as you compile a case-history or biographical novel from all kinds of evidence—things she remembered, things she had been told and one or two things, we had better confess it, at which she just guessed. The most remarkable evidence was a miniature Victorian notebook with gilt-edged pages, discovered by Kate in a gamekeeper's cottage on the Studdington estate near Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. May had dreamed of" p.
With this echo of Hamlet's speech to Horatio, Mrs. May becomes, at least temporarily, more Nellie-Dean-like, while the chasm between those tied down to normality and those capable of vision begins to widen, with Mrs. May and Kate for the most part on opposite sides of the gap. The frame events find Mrs. May as the recent inheritor of the gamekeeper's cottage on the grounds of Firbank Hall. She takes eleven-year old Kate with her for first viewing, at which time Mrs.
May becomes involved in long discussion with a lawyer named Beguid whose name is pronounced "be good," as the narrator is careful to explaindiscussions involving deeds, drains, and renovations. Meanwhile, Kate discovers and befriends the displaced gamekeeper, Tom Goodenough, who is about to be sent to the "almshouse.
Tom's involvement with the Clocks began when he was present at the "gassing" as "a boy from the village … with a ferret," in chapter nineteen of The Borrowers. He alone of those present witnessed the Clocks' exodus through the grating and the beginning of their odyssey across the field to find their relatives; the latter, however, had left the badger set and come to reside in the wall beside the hearth in this same cottage, then inhabited by Tom and his grandfather, the old gamekeeper.
The beginning frame here takes four initial chapters to erect, establishing Tom Goodenough as a gruff and rather irascible old man, angry at his displacement and distrustful of putting anything "in writing" because of the way in which the present written will giving Mrs. May the cottage has overridden his old master's word. Old liar or not, he seems reliable here, or at least unlikely to have made up the story just to please a curious girl.
Tom really becomes acquainted with the Clocks only after they have spent a harrowing winter outdoors in a boot which Mild Eye the gypsy has lost and they have met Spiller, an orphan Borrower—inarticulately rough and enterprising, dressed in pelts of rodents. Spiller witnesses Mild Eye's finding the boot and his bringing it back to his caravan with the Clocks in it.
Spiller—who knows the Clocks' relatives, Aunt Lupy and Uncle Hendreary, who live in Tom's cottage—then enlists Tom to come rescue the Clocks and take them back to the cottage. This Tom does and is rewarded, as we learn at the end of this book, by Arrietty's overtures of friendship—based, it becomes clear, on her irresistible attraction to human beings.
Although there is no end frame as such as The Borrowers Afield —only the beginning of Tom's and Arrietty's friendship, told as part of the central story—the next book initially takes up the same frame situation.
The central story of The Borrowers Afloat takes them through their uneasy stay with rather unwelcoming relatives, another exodus from the cottage down the drainpipe and into a stream, where they are again in danger from Mild Eye and again rescued by Spiller who comes for them in his flat-bottomed boat made from a wooden silverware tray and takes them to Little Fordham, a model village which would seem just scaled and suited to Borrowers. Time seems to pass more slowly in the frame than in the central story suggesting an interesting difference between human time and Borrower timeso while almost a year has passed in the course of The Borrowers Afield, the beginning frame of The Borrowers Afloat is still set within the visit of Mrs.
It shows Kate about to pass on what she has learned to Mrs. May, who seems about to be convinced again of the possibility of the Borrowers' existence, as they look together at the small hole in the wall behind the wood pile which may be the entrance to the place in Tom's cottage where the Borrowers once dwelled.
This is the last mention of Kate or Mrs. May in the series—briefly drawn together again in speculation about the Borrowers. The end of The Borrowers Afloat, however, takes a great liberty with consistency of point of view, assuming that we are still accepting the rhetorical situation set up at the beginning of The Borrowers Afield, i.
As narrator, she is too omniscient, for what is shown at the end is Crampfurl—the gardener at Firbank Hall who spends his evenings with Mrs. The new level of reality set up by Tom's evidence is going now to be confirmed by other witnesses outside the frame.
This development, while inconsistent with the earlier framing devices, prepares us for the takeover by the omniscient narrator in the next two books; there, as in this instance, all the characters will operate at the same level of reality; human beings both hostile and sympathetic to the Borrowers will confirm their existence. The texts of the next two books are no longer chiefly concerned with a storytelling frame as either a rhetorical device for authentication or as a self-reflexive technique.
IV This development does not, however, cause the reader as much readjustment as the previous emphasis on frames perhaps suggests. All along, Norton has used poetic license in telling the central story—which obstensibly originates in the combined eyewitness accounts of Arrietty, Mrs.
May's nine-year old brother, and Tom Goodenough, as boy and old man. Even in the first book, the level of what the narrator calls "guessing" about what happened is high. While the narration there, for the most part, records only Arrietty's inner consciousness, when necessary, the narrator does not hesitate to move into other minds as well, including the alien one of Mrs.
Driver, plotting to capture whoever has been engaging in petty pilfering in Firbank Hall. Nor does the style of telling the central story, which is interrupted by much circumstantial detailed description but little intrusive narrator interpretation, vary much in the first three books from the style in the last two books.
Even when internal narrators are present, Norton seems to strive, almost paradoxically, for the impression of an unmediated account during the actual storytelling. The Borrowers Aloft projects a whole new set of human characters: Pott, one-legged, ex-railway man who builds the model village of Little Fordham for his own pleasure and accepts donations for the Railway Benevolent Fund from visitors; Mrs. Menzies, a gentle maiden lady of artistic talent and belief in fairies, who assists him unofficially and becomes friendly with Arrietty; Mr.
Platter, proprietors of a highly commercial model village, who consider themselves competitors with Mr. Pott, who is completely unaware of their existence. Platter builds a glass house in which to display their every move to visitors. Meanwhile, Arrietty, Pod and Homily come across instructions in an old newspaper for building a balloon; borrowing ingeniously from the junk-filled attic, they manage to construct one in which to make their escape through the window in the early spring, sailing back to Little Fordham where Spiller waits to greet them.
Here the narrator leaves them, as if forever, with certain prophecies about Arrietty's marriage to Spiller and their independent life in a tree house satisfying Arrietty's need for adventure in the outdoorsand the fates of the Platters, contradicted in the epilogue to The Borrowers AvengedMr.
Pott, and Miss Menzies. In these last two pages, the narrator takes, for the first and last time, a strongly intrusive stance and, in effect, turns to address the reader, passing on the storytelling itself to him or her: The narrator thus sets both Borrowers and readers free or abandons them, some readers may feel.
This ending suggests that the older Clocks, who generally opted for security over adventure, will be content to stay in Little Fordham with its benevolent overseers; Arrietty alone needs seek a less protected life with Spiller. The ending is in line with Norton's contention inin accepting the Carnegie Medal for The Borrowers: The Boy offers to take a letter to a badger sett two fields away where her Uncle Hendreary, Aunt Lupy, and their children are supposed to have emigrated.
Meanwhile, Arrietty has learned from Pod and Homily that they get a "feeling" when big people approach. She is concerned that she didn't have a feeling when the Boy approached, so she practises by going to a certain passage below the kitchen, which is more frequently trafficked by humans than the rest of the house.
There she overhears the cook Mrs Driver and the gardener Crampfurl discussing the Boy. Mrs Driver dislikes children in general and believes the Boy is up to no good, particularly when Crampfurl suspects that the Boy is keeping a pet ferret after seeing him in a field calling for "Uncle something.
Pod catches Arrietty taking the letter from the Boy and brings her home. After Arrietty confesses everything she has told the Boy, Pod and Homily fear the Boy will figure out where they live and that they will be forced to emigrate.
The Boy soon does find the Clocks' home, but far from wishing them harm, he brings them gifts of dollhouse furniture from the nursery. They experience a period of "borrowing beyond all dreams of borrowing" as the Boy offers them gift after gift. In return, Arrietty is allowed to go outside and read aloud to him. Eventually Mrs Driver suspects the Boy of stealing after catching him trying to open a curio cabinet full of valuable miniatures.
Following him, she sees the Boy lifting up some floorboards near the clock. Believing this is where he has been caching his stolen goods, she peers beneath the boards and is horrified to discover the Borrowers in their home. To prevent the Boy from helping the Borrowers escape, she locks him in his room until it is time for him to return to India.
Meanwhile she hires a ratcatcher to fumigate the house in order to catch the Borrowers. Mrs Driver cruelly allows the boy out of his room so that he can watch when the Borrowers' bodies are found. The Boy manages to escape her and, running outside, break open the grating in hopes of providing his friends with an escape route. As he waits for them to emerge, the cab arrives to take him away. Mrs Driver drags him to the cab and forces him inside, leaving the fate of the Borrowers unknown.
Some time later, the Boy's sister a young Mrs May visits the home herself in hopes of proving her brother's stories were real. She leaves small gifts at the badgers' sett, which are gone the next time she checks. Later she finds a miniature memoranda book in which the entire story of the Borrowers has been written, presumably by Arrietty. However, when Kate rejoices that the book means that the Borrowers survived and that the whole story was true, Mrs May points out that "Arrietty's" handwriting was identical to Mrs May's brother's.
Characters[ edit ] Borrowers Arrietty Clock: An adventurous and curious fourteen-year-old Borrower. She knows how to read, owns a collection of pocket-sized books, and is fascinated with "human beans" after meeting The Boy. She is also the only Borrower educated enough to comprehend that the Borrowers may be dying out.
In later books, her interactions with humans frequently cause concern for her parents. A talented Borrower and a shoemaker who creates button boots out of beads and old kid gloves. He is cautious, but not opposed to new ideas, and a quick inventor and improviser.
Arrietty's mother, a nervous woman who likes her tidy domestic world and can't bear the thought of hardship or discomfort. Nevertheless she often shows fortitude in difficult or dangerous situations, though she complains constantly through them. She is extremely proud of Arrietty and encourages her to educate herself through reading.
Arrietty's uncle and Pod's brother. He and his family were one of many Borrower families who used to live in the house, but they were eventually forced to leave after Hendreary was "seen. Homily dislikes Lupy for putting on airs because she was once a member of the prestigious Harpsichord family, though she envies Lupy's elegance and refinement.
She has three sons from a previous marriage and a stepdaughter, Eggletina. She is prissy, bossy, and dominating. Hendreary's daughter from his first marriage. Eggletina's family attempted to protect her by lying about the Big House and failed to inform her that her father had been "seen. She wandered out to explore and was presumed eaten, though in the second book, Arrietty learns that she is still alive, and that she is a thin, shy girl.
A family of Borrowers who lived on the drawing room mantelpiece, they were snobbish and given to airs, but Homily pities them because they were forced to live on nothing but breakfast food and often went hungry. The Overmantels were one of many Borrower families that emigrated once there were too few humans to sustain them.
A family of Borrowers who lived in a rainpipe, they were considered lower-class because their home was prone to flooding, frequently wiping out all their possessions and leaving them destitute.
Aunt Lupy was born a Rain-Pipe until she married into the Harpsichord family. Their fate is unknown but presumably they, too, moved away. Another family of Borrowers who lived in the drawing room wainscot where a harpsichord used to stand. They mixed with the Overmantels and were likewise prone to putting on airs.
Lupy married into the Harpsichord family and had three sons before presumably being left a widow.