Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews March 6, 2024
February 28, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Author Kaye Gibbons
Type of work Novel
Genre Modern fictional narrative
Time and place written Late 1980s;
Raleigh, North Carolina
Date of first publication
Publisher Vintage Books
Narrator The character of Ellen Foster
Point of view The narrator speaks in the first person throughout
the entirety of the novel and gives a subjective view of all other
Tone Ellen's narration is consistently subjective and informal,
as it is written in the language of an eleven year old who has grown
up in the southern United States. Throughout the novel, Ellen employs colloquialisms,
slang, and humor to tell her story.
Tense Frequently shifts in tense from present to past; description
of the past is being relayed in hindsight from the present.
Setting (time) Mid to late 1970;s
Setting (place) Southern United States, probably North Carolina
Protagonist Ellen Foster
Major conflict Ellen continually suffers abuse by her neglectful caretakers
and searches for a stable home and loving family.
Rising action Ellen is placed in a number of temporary homes, all
of which are unhappy, and she longs for a home where she is loved
and cared for.
Climax Ellen is expelled from Nadine's home on Christmas day
for being disrespectful.
Falling action Ellen is welcomed into her new mama's home and has
at last found the loving family for which she has yearned and so deserves.
Themes Determination despite adversity; self-consciousness
and self-criticism; transcending ignorance through social awareness
Motifs Food; death; God and the afterlife
Symbols Storm and rain; the ocean; Ellen's cat painting
Foreshadowing Just before her mother commits suicide, Ellen senses
that a terrible storm is coming, which foretells the nightmarish
abuse and trauma she is soon to suffer at the hands of her father
and other relatives.