The boy's mother is perhaps the most understated character in the entire novel. She plays a central role in the family's functioning, particularly after the father is arrested. She maintains the home domestically and financially, and she never complains about the enormous burden that suddenly landed on her. Her love for her husband is evident in her dogged faithfulness, and it is clear through her attitude that she believes he will come home. She never gets depressed and never reaches a point of feeling as if it is too much. Armstrong writes her as the silent heroine, attracting little attention but functioning in perhaps the most important role. The boy's mother is wise—she addresses concerns and situations with proverbs—and knows factual information such as that oak leaves can help to draw out poison. She has an understanding of the world that goes beyond what one can learn from an education. The single stable force in the boy's life, his mother allows him room to grow up and learn for himself while guiding him along the way. She is adamant that he live and study with the teacher he meets, and it is clear that she wants only what is best for her family, including her absent husband.