First of all, it provides rich juxtaposition between two families (Eve (heroine) and Tommy, Miriam (Eve’s sister) and John) in terms of their characters. One party being unassuming, kind and helpful to one another; another being indifferent and inconsiderate to the chores and affairs, you think the good one of course will be living happily ever after, but never guess both turn out to be facing straitened circumstances. However it underlines the importance of the attitude in embracing the obstacles bravely yet alarmingly.
One interesting point is that Susan Hill, to me, dissects the word “Kind” throughout the novella, she firstly reflects the noticeable social perceptions of gender roles and family components through this word. It usually and generally describes the temperament of females but the notion is to be redefined here. At the start of the story, Nelly Holmes, Eve’s mother, conjures up one suggestion in choosing a husband: “Is He A Kind Man?” In my opinion given with the given plot later on, the roles of married woman and man in a family are re-analysed in writer’s words: When the word “Kind” comes up, does that mean a wife is actually the dominant role in a family whereas a husband, who lives under the same roof, is only considered as an assistance to the household chosen by a woman in no other than giving out financial assistance? You could see it’s the wife making the decision in the household mirrored by the family of Miriam’s, how disastrous it turns out when she does not stand up and instead, only faces the music.
“But in this he was wrong. He was not being shunned. People were puzzled and they were also respectful of him, not wanting to intrude, seeing the troubled look on him and thinking they would help by leaving him alone.”
Another idea is that Susan Hill implies and discusses the meaning of the word “Kind” regarding social perspective and viewpoint of the general public. Evasion is the word. Respect is the word. Use is the word. Contempt is the word. The public reacts differently. It is interesting to note this idea.
It seems a bit awkward when the plots swiftly turn another angle from the poignant circumstances to this issue of give and take. Nonetheless the themes are nicely covered in analyzing different perspectives of society nowadays using the word “Kind” in this literary novella. A thought-provoking work indeed.