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THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS
The Protagonists are Carmen, Tibby, Bridget, and Lena as well as the magical Traveling Pants, which impact them so positively. They are a group who are forever linked, first because they were all born around the same time to four mothers who were friends as well, and second, because they take an oath on the Traveling Pants to always stay friends and rely on each other for their support.
Many of the minor characters at one time or another are subtle antagonists, but their impact is not even worth mentioning when we think of the antagonist called one’s inner self. The four girls find themselves in conflict with their inner selves much more often than any other person or object.
The climax is different for each girl. For Carmen, it occurs when she makes the mature decision to attend her father’s wedding. For Lena, it occurs when she finds the courage to apologize to Kostos and admit how much she likes him. For Bee, it comes when Lena arrives to give her a shoulder to cry on and allow her to stand up on her own and go home. And for Tibby, it comes with Bailey’s death, when she discovers that life is all about the small pleasures we experience.
Carmen is able to compromise with her father and his new family and by doing so, she truly becomes a family member. Lena and Kostos vocalize the feelings they have for each other and then, she heads to Baja to help Bee find her way home. Bee feels lost and adrift, unable to make even simple decisions until Lena arrives and gives her the strength to face the choices she has made and face the future optimistically. Finally, Tibby accepts the deaths of Mimi and Bailey and learns that life is all about the simple pleasures.
SHORT PLOT / CHAPTER SUMMARY (Synopsis)
This novel relates the story of four young girls, friends since their births, who make a pact on a pair of magical blue jeans to stay friends forever even though they are parting from each for the first time the summer after their sophomore year. They each have a variety of adventures both wearing the Pants and without them, and each one learns valuable lessons about the pleasures and the sorrows of life. Like a bildungsroman, which is a tale relating a young man coming of age, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants reveals the life passages that young women experience as they come of age as well.
Friendship, Loyalty and Love for Each Other
The most important theme of the novel is friendship, loyalty and love for each other. In spite of their youth, these four girls recognize the value of the relationship they have had with each other all their lives. The pact they make on the Traveling Pants may seem superficial and even a bit childish, but it is elemental in how they express their feelings for each other. Their letters, their determination to stay close, and their support of each other during both good and bad times, are examples we all can follow about the value of being surrounded by those we love.
Consequences and the Lessons They Offer
The theme of consequences and the lessons they offer is also an important idea. Each girl makes both good and bad decisions over this summer away from their friends, but they learn valuable lessons from these experiences that they write down on the Pants so they can never forget them.
Life’s Simple Pleasures are What Brings Happiness
The theme of life’s simple pleasures are what bring happiness is a theme which is ultimately voiced by Tibby who learns this through her experiences with Bailey, her work at Wallman’s, her loss of Mimi, and the intense pleasure Brian McBrian gets from playing Dragon Master. However, she is not the only one who learns this. They all discover from their own experiences and the consequences they face just exactly what is most valuable in life.
This story is filled with sadness, despair, fear, and loneliness just as life is full of these emotions. However, for each girl there is also a sense of triumph and ultimately happiness after a summer of experiencing life’s passages.
AUTHOR INFORMATION - BIOGRAPHY
Ann Brashares was born in Chevy Chase, Maryland and is the sister to three brothers. She went to a Quaker School called Sidwell Friends School. She now lives in New York City and proclaims that she is “a lover of both travel and pants.” She is married and has three children and still has a pair of jeans from the tenth grade. However, they are not magical and they don’t fit anymore! She has followed The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, her first novel, with three sequels relating the adventures of the Pants over the next three summers of the four girls.
She studied Philosophy at Barnard College, part of Columbia University in New York City. Expecting to continue studying philosophy in graduate school, Ann took a year off after college to work as an editor, hoping to save money for school. Loving her job, she never went to graduate school, and instead, remained in New York City and worked as an editor for many years. Last year, Ann made the transition from editor to full-time writer and wrote her first novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, published in 2001.
Ann currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband Jacob Collins and their three children. She is said to consider her daughter to be a member of the "Sisterhood".
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants