The Great Gilly Hopkins | Study Guide

Katherine Paterson

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The Great Gilly Hopkins | Chapter 11 : Never and Other Canceled Promises | Summary



Saturday night Gilly Hopkins, Trotter, William Ernest, and Mr. Randolph are having their belated Thanksgiving dinner and laughing about the events of the past few days. Trotter asks who the woman was who visited, and Gilly says it was just a woman asking them to join her church. After school on Monday, Agnes asks why she hasn't been around. Gilly says, "My family's been sick." Gilly gets angry when Agnes scoffs at the idea of Gilly's "family." When Gilly and William Ernest arrive home, the caseworker Miss Ellis is there. She tells Gilly that Courtney wants her to live with her grandmother Nonnie permanently. Gilly is disappointed that Courtney still doesn't want her to come to California. Gilly starts crying and looks to Trotter to save her from this situation. Gilly reminds Trotter that she claimed she'd never let Gilly go. William Ernest comforts Gilly. Gilly can see the pain Trotter is in but there's nothing she can do. Miss Ellis tells Gilly that her grandmother will come to get her tomorrow because of the letter she wrote complaining about Trotter.


Gilly Hopkins knows that her letter resulted in the visit from her grandmother Nonnie, though this isn't how she imagined the ending. She envisioned her beautiful mother sweeping in to rescue her, not a dumpy little lady from Virginia to spy on her. Gilly has prided herself on her ability to manage her life, but she admits to herself that her own letter has caused a series of events that have spun out of her control. One again she has made sure that she will be removed from a foster family, but this time she doesn't want to go. Gilly is in the process of confronting what it means to have a family. She refers to Trotter, William Ernest, and Mr. Randolph as her family for the first time in this chapter, just in time to be taken away from them.

Miss Ellis refers to Gilly's mother as one of "the flower children." Members of the counterculture that flourished during the late 1960s and 1970s were known as flower children and hippies. The movement started in response to the Vietnam War and eventually included hundreds of thousands of young people who rejected mainstream American culture and values. They were known for their long hair and colorful clothes and were associated with drug use, sexual liberation, and rock music.

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