35 pages 1 hour read

Margaret Peterson Haddix

Running Out Of Time

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1995

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Important Quotes

Quotation Mark Icon

“Sometimes Jessie wanted to be an adult right away, so she could learn all the secrets. And sometimes she never wanted to grow up.”

(Chapter 1, Page 6)

Like many children, Jessie instinctively knows that the adults in Clifton keep secrets. Although she has no idea yet about the truth of Clifton Village, she is both curious and wary. She recognizes children are sometimes privileged by remaining in the dark. This battle between a desire for more knowledge and a desire to remain ignorant is key to Jessie’s journey.

Quotation Mark Icon

“Usually Jessie could find some answer to any question at school, even when she wasn’t entirely sure. But she couldn’t figure out anything now. In the sunny yard, Jessie almost wondered if she’d imagined going to the King of the Mountain rock. Had she dreamed it?”

(Chapter 2, Page 12)

This scene highlights the tension between fact and fiction in Jessie’s world. Jessie’s reality has been 1840s Clifton, but her mother’s request is beginning to shift that reality. Anything that defies what she has grown up believing must be fiction until she sees proof of it. Jessie’s belief that the meeting with her mother must be a dream characterizes childhood; as children, imagination is so powerful that it becomes a truth itself.

Quotation Mark Icon

“‘Okay’ was a bad word no one was supposed to say, but Jessie liked it. Sometimes she wondered if it was forbidden because it had a secret power to make things okay. If that was true, Jessie wanted that power now.”

(Chapter 3, Page 17)

Without knowing why the word is forbidden, Jessie senses its significance, showing that she understands language’s power. As her sister and the other children become sick, she feels powerless and seeks to reclaim control. One way she does this is by defying the adults’ rules about modern words. This small rebellion illustrates Jessie’s determination and courage.