Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
STUDY GUIDE - THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS
THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS
Friendship, Loyalty and Love for Each Other
The theme of friendship, loyalty and love for each other reflects that in spite of their youth, these four girls recognize the value of the relationship they have had with each other all their lives. The pact they make on the Traveling Pants may seem superficial and even a bit childish, but it is elemental in how they express their feelings for each other. Carmen comes home feeling betrayed by her father and turns immediately to Tibby for comfort and advice. Tibby’s friendship with Bailey reinforces the feelings she has for the Sisterhood, because her death shows Tibby how important the small pleasures she gave to others while alive can be emulated when she is within the Sisterhood. Bridget learned when Lena came all the way to Baja that no matter how big the problem may seem, there is always someone you love to catch you when you fall. And Lena learned that she could give her heart even within the fear of rejection and then be the one who comforts when others, like Bee, feel rejection as well. Their letters, their determination to stay close, and their support of each other during both good and bad times, are examples we all can follow about the value of being surrounded by those we love.
Consequences and the Lessons They Offer
The theme of consequences and the lessons they offer is also an important idea. Each girl makes both good and bad decisions over this summer away from their friends, but they learn valuable lessons from these experiences that they write down on the Pants so they can never forget them. For example, Carmen learns the value of family and the compromises we all must make when we are part of a family. Tibby learns that life is a series of small pleasures that make living worthwhile. Bridget learns she can face rejection and shame as long as she has someone she loves there to support her. Finally, Lena learns that life is always filled with the possibility of rejection, but if you don’t take the chance, you may never experience the best part of life.
Life’s Simple Pleasures are What Brings Happiness
The theme of life’s simple pleasures are what brings happiness is a theme which is ultimately voiced by Tibby who learns this through her experiences with Bailey, her work at Wallman’s, her loss of Mimi, and the intense pleasure Brian McBrian gets from playing Dragon Master. However, she is not the only one who learns this. They all discover from their own experiences and the consequences they bring just exactly what is most valuable in life. Carmen learns how great it is to be so valued that her family would want her in a wedding picture even when she is wearing blue jeans. Bridget discovers that friendship must never be under-valued when Lena flies all the way to Baja to catch her as she falls into despair. Lena learns the pleasure of an embrace that speaks of the possibility of the love when the time is right. The little memories are the ones that will always provide joy when we most need it.
The author’s style is a combination of humor mixed in with serious commentary and poignancy. She presents key passages in the lives of four young girls in order to show the reader how we all came of age through the decisions we made, both good and bad. She presents it with youthful language and exuberance in chapters which are introduced by important quotes whose intention is to make commentary on the events of the chapters. She then presents events in the lives of each girl juxtaposed next to each other. Interspersed within the chapters are letters the girls write to each other expressing what they have experienced and what they have or have not learned. In addition, she uses the character of Carmen to speak in both the prologue and epilogue as a framework for the entire novel. Carmen then becomes the key character who seems to have no athletic abilities like Bee, cannot paint like Lena, and can’t make movies like Tibby. However, she has the ability to look upon all of them with an unbiased eye both before and after their memorable summer.
This novel can probably best be classified as a coming-of-age novel for young adults. It contains many comedic aspects, as well as tragic aspects, but it is not really either. It may also be considered as inspirational fiction for young adults.
The rising action begins when Carmen, Tibby, Bridget, and Lena all swear an oath on the Traveling Pants to wear them with confidence and to never lose sight of the value of friendship. It continues as each girl has different, varied experiences from which they learn all about life and then are ready to bring home to their friends what they have learned. Each has a different climax to their experiences that lead up to the falling action: Carmen goes to her father’s wedding; Tibby faces the deaths of Bailey and Mimi; Bridget finds love and support from Lena; and Lena offers her heart to Kostos.
The falling action involves their return to Gilda’s, the empty gym where they mothers had first met when they were all pregnant. There they bring back the Pants and all of them write their experiences on them to be remembered forever. Carmen says that there at Gilda’s they didn’t have time to relate the depth of their experiences, but that with time and the next school year, all the small, precious nuances of their time apart will come out and be explored together.
POINT OF VIEW
The point of view is first person in the Prologue and the Epilogue as Carmen introduces the reader to the events that are about to take place, speaking in flashback, and then summarizes what happened to them and the renewal of the friendship at Gilda’s. The remainder of the novel is told in the omniscient third person point of view. All parts are told in the past tense.Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version