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The Prologue is narrated by Carmen, using the first-person point of view. The chapters of the novel are narrated by a third-person limited narrator who focuses on one girl at a time, changing throughout each chapter. The Epilogue is narrated by Carmen, using the first-person point of view.
Point of view
The Prologue and Epilogue are narrated by Carmen, in first-person point of view. The chapters are narrated in third-person limited point of view.
The tone is reflective, recounting what each girl experiences during her summer apart from her friends. Brashares also uses humor and sarcasm when relaying some of the girls’ funnier experiences.
The present time, early twenty-first century
The setting alternates among four locations: Oia, Greece; Baja California, Mexico; South Carolina; and Bethesda, Maryland.
There are four protagonists: Carmen, Bridget, Tibby, and Lena.
During their first summer apart, the girls must learn how to face their experiences without the security of the others. Each girl faces a different conflict. Carmen struggles to accept her father’s new family and her own anger at her father. Tibby struggles to reconcile her usual sarcasm with the new insights she gleans from her young friend, Bailey. Lena must learn how to open herself up to others so she doesn’t lose Kostos. Bridget recklessly pursues a coach at her camp, even though there are many dangers involved.
Carmen grows increasingly resentful of her father’s new family and her awkward place in it. Tibby learns that the people she thought were losers are actually human beings, and she grows closer to Bailey. Lena makes a mess of things with Kostos, inadvertently making her grandparents suspect he attacked her. Bridget pursues Eric relentlessly, and he starts giving in.
Carmen throws a rock through Lydia’s kitchen window, then flees home to Maryland. Tibby rushes to the hospital to visit Bailey, who soon dies. Lena gathers the courage to tell Kostos how she feels about him, and then they kiss. Bridget and Eric become physically intimate when she sneaks to his cabin in the middle of the night.
Carmen wallows in her guilty feelings, ultimately deciding to go back to South Carolina and make things right with her father. Tibby attends Bailey’s funeral and decides to live her life to the fullest. Lena makes a detour to Mexico on her way home from Greece, because she knows Bridget needs a friend. Bridget sinks into a deep sadness and struggles to understand her confused, hurt feelings about what happened with Eric.
The Prologue reveals that the girls did indeed survive their summer apart and lived to tell their stories to one another. Carmen’s saving of the perfect apple on the plane to South Carolina foreshadows the fact that her summer won’t be as perfect as she’d hoped. As Tibby gets to know Bailey, readers may suspect that something will happen to Bailey from the difficulty Mrs. Graffman has in talking about Bailey’s illness. Bailey’s connection to Mimi foreshadows Mimi’s death, as well as her own from leukemia. Tibby’s revelation to Bailey that Bridget’s mother was depressed foreshadows Bridget’s sadness in Mexico.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants!