Hema and Philipa are important because of the idea of neglect. Hema’s mother is pushing him and his sister away, as she is becoming more reliant on her man and is trying to please him. She says to the children “Go away now kids. Uncle Pera and I want to be left alone”. Philipa is constantly tossed to the side as her parents leave her to fend for herself. We are told “Dad was away. Mum had gone to town and forgotten to lock Philipa in the house”. Philipa tries to pretend her parents still care for her, saying “It’s my birthday. Mum got me a bike”. This shows how deeply affected children can be as a result of neglect. It can cause emotional scars of having low self esteem and feeling as though one cannot be loved. Also depression with the desperate need for attention they never get.
Secondly the problem of abuse and violence shows us how Hema and Philipa are admirable characters. When Philips gets frustrated or angry she takes it out on her toy, just as her parents would take it out on her. She says “There you go Chubby. That’s what you get. Just like Dad does”. Hema is constantly witnessing violence between his parents or himself, such as “He slapped her and threw her against the wall”. He tries to protect his sister when his mother decides to giver her a “thrashing”. “Mum hit me. She didn’t mean to. Yes she did, she hit me”. This shows us how children brought up in violent families will only continue the cycle of abuse for future generations as they have witnessed it from their own parents thinking it’s the right and acceptable thing to do.
Finally, Hema and Philipa are important characters as they help us to understand the idea of unconditional love. Hema is ignored and “bashed” by his mother and her lover and he runs away as an attempt to escape from it all. However, on his journey, he decides to return home. He feels guilty for leaving his weak mother and “love for her overwhelmed him”. Philipa is forgotten about, starved and referred to as the “brat” by her parents. All the mis-treated actions by her mother and father do not affect Philipa’s opinion about them. She says “You know what, Chubby? When we grow up you and me will live like Mum and Dad”. This shows that no matter how bad children are mistreated, they will always be filled with love for their parents, as it’s an unbreakable bond no one can harm.