98 pages 3 hours read

Margaret Peterson Haddix

Among the Hidden

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1998

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Symbols & Motifs

The Woods

The woods surrounding Luke’s house, and trees in general, symbolize safety to Luke. This symbolism is introduced in the very first chapter of the book to establish the drastic changes that Luke is going through in the opening chapters.

In Chapter 1, the first sentence of the novel describes Luke witnessing “the first tree shudder and fall, far off in the distance” (1). Luke’s mother demands he get inside immediately, and Luke understands the danger of not doing so. With the government’s decision to level the forest for a housing development, Luke loses one of his only freedoms: going outside. Despite existing illegally, Luke has lived his life until this point with the freedom to “cradle new baby pigs in the barn, climb trees at the edge of the woods, throw snowballs at the posts of the clothesline” (11). The woods provided a barrier between Luke’s family property and the outside world. Now, with the destruction of the forest, “everything was brighter, more open. Scarier” (3). Without the woods surrounding the house, Luke is at a greater risk of being seen by people who would turn him in to the Population Police.