These fantastic Infographics were made by a teacher and his class:
abiding sullen whittle ignorant
buoyed leprosy exertion hobo
fervently pelting reproachful emancipators
Rob Horton has recently moved with his father from Jacksonville to a dumpy motel in Lister, Florida. Ever since his mother's death, Rob has packed up his feelings in a "suitcase" and clamped it down tight. He is determined that nothing will make him cry again–not the bullies who torment him at his new school, not the ugly, itchy rash on his legs, and especially not missing his mother. Then two extraordinary things happen. First, Rob discovers a real-life caged tiger in the woods behind the motel where he lives. On that same day, he meets Sistine Bailey, a feisty, independent-minded girl who lets her feelings out as readily as Rob holds his in. As Rob and Sistine learn to trust each other, and eventually become friends, they prove that some things – like memories, and heartache, and tigers – can't be locked up forever.
When Rob first tells Sistine about the tiger, her answer is "Where?" Rob feels that he picked the right person to tell about the tiger. What do you think Sistine's answer reveals about her?
Sistine believes Rob right away and doesn't tease him. He wanted to tell someone who wouldn't doubt him (p. 38), and he found that person in Sistine. Sistine's answer reveals that she is different from the other students at school with whom Rob chooses not to speak. Like Rob, she needs a place to put her hopes and dreams.
Sistine is easier to talk to because she is an outsider, like he is. Later, Willie May points out what a good pair they are; Rob is full of sadness and Sistine is full of anger. (p. 81) They become friends because they can talk to each other and they have similar experiences: the loss of a parent, living in a new place and being unusual. Sistine makes Rob feel happy for the first time since his mother died. (p. 52)
A theme is a big idea or central topic of importance in a work. It is often timeless and universal (like a concept), such as ‘love’ and ‘death’. Short stories often have just one theme, whereas novels usually have multiple themes. A theme of a story is woven all the way through the story, and the characters' actions, interactions, and motivations all reflect the story's theme.
Rob calls his father's hands "complicated hands" because they did so many different kinds of things. Although they were the same hands that put medicine on Rob's legs and held him when he cried, they were also the hands that shot the tiger and who hit him on the day of his mother's funeral. (p. 114) Students may recognize that most parents have conflicting responsibilities of dealing with their own thoughts and feelings as human beings as well as trying to protect and care for their own children. As in the case of Rob's father, it was hard for him to deal with the loss of his wife, but he also had to help Rob deal with the loss of his mother.
On the first night that he spends time with Sistine, he feels happiness for the first time: "Rob remembered the name of the feeling that was pushing up inside of him, filling him full to overflowing. It was happiness." (p. 52) He didn't recognize it at first because it had been so long since he had felt that way. At the end of the book, he has allowed his sadness to surface, so he actually had room in his heart to feel happiness. On the last pages, he is waking up from a hopeful dream where he is sharing beautiful experiences with Sistine and smiling. He may define happiness as sharing one's feelings with a good friend and appreciating the beautiful things in life together.
Once the tiger was released, he had to be killed to protect the children or anyone else that was in the vicinity. Unlike the earlier incident when Rob recalls his father killing a bird just because he could, Rob's father kills the tiger in his desire to protect his son. Practically speaking, the police, or local animal control should have been called to protect the life of the tiger. This incident of killing the tiger is difficult to understand, because throughout the book the tiger seems to represent the caged up feelings of Sistine and Rob. When they finally release the tiger, readers may expect the tiger to run away with Sistine saying , "That was the right thing to do." (p.105) But when they release him, Rob remembers Willie May's green parakeet. Just as releasing the tiger has consequences, so does allowing your anger and sadness to finally surface after being bottled up. In this way, the tiger had to be killed so that Rob and Sistine could fully come to grips with their feelings. Rob's father needed to be a part of this because he was the person who instructed Rob to keep his feelings bottled up on the day of his mother's funeral.
Symbols are objects or actions that recur many times in a book. and they have a deeper meaning in the story. How is this object more than what it is? Why is it significant? What does it mean to a particular character? What is the author trying to tell us through this object?
What do these symbols represent in The Tiger Rising?
The Kentucky Star Motel sign
The caged tiger
Sistine's pink dress