The Boxes by: William Sleator

Published: 1990 Genre: Speculative fiction BY: carter


Summary of The Boxes by William Sleator

When Annie's Uncle Marco is going on a trip, he leaves Annie with a responsibility. To take care of two mysterious boxes, one made of wood, one made of metal. He tells Annie that the boxes must be kept separate and no one could know about them. They cannot be opened at all. Annie is consumed with curiosity and after a while opening the boxes is all she can think about. Eventually she pries open the wooden box which she has stowed in the root cellar of the house where she lives with her mean Aunt Ruth.

A tiny crablike creature comes scuttling out, and disappears into the darkness of the basement. The metal box that is hidden in Annie's closet, turns out to contain a strange clock-like device marked with odd pictures or graphical figures. Somehow, opening the second box activates the clock, which now seems to be measuring time, though not in any way Annie can understand. Meanwhile, in the basement, the crablike creature has begun to reproduce. The resulting tribe of beings is able to communicate telepathically; they inform Annie that by opening the boxes she has become the "nervous system," a link of communication between them and the clock, which they appear to worship as a kind of god.

Protagonist, Antagonist,

Some of the protagonists in the story the boxes are Annie, Henry, Uncle Marco, one trait about Annie is that she is very curious, because of the boxes. One trait about Henry is he geeky, because he knows all about Greek and other weird mythology stuff. One trait of Uncle Marco is he's very mysterious, because of the trips he goes on.

Antagonists: Aunt Ruth, and the Business men and women

Exposition: When Uncle Marco comes to visit Annie and brings two boxes and leaves her with three jobs, don't tell anyone about the boxes, don't open the boxes, keep the boxes apart. Rising Action: Annie opens the boxes and a crap-like creature crawls out and disappears into the darkness. Climax: The creatures build a palace in the root cellar of Annie's house. Falling action: Annie tries to hide all of this from Uncle Marco. Resolution: Annie gets to go with Uncle Marco on his next trip wherever that may be.


The setting is taking place in a little gated community in New York City in 1998. It effects the plot because the Business Men are trying to buy the lot so they can build a big mall. Without them trying to keep the business men from spying on Annie, they wouldn't have seen her during the slowdown, that's why they offered Aunt Ruth 1 million dollars for her house. Aunt Ruth and Henry's parents were the only people that didn't give in until they both took the 1 million dollar offer. Without them offering that money Aunt Ruth and Henry's parents wouldn't have gave in to letting them have their property. That is how the setting effects the plot.


The theme is: How could it hurt to take just one peek. The theme is formed by the setting, plot and characters.

The characters: Annie, Henry, Uncle Marco, Aunt Ruth, and Crutchley and his workers. They help develop the theme in many ways. For example Annie, Henry, and Uncle Marco are the main characters, without them the story wouldn't be the story. Crutchley and the Business Men are a very important part of the story, for instance without them trying to buy the house to build a mall, and they wouldn't see Annie moving in incredibly fast speeds.

Without them the theme wouldn't be the theme.

The setting helps develop the theme as well. It is a nice gated community where nothing would seem to go wrong. Instead of that Uncle Marco shows up with two mysterious boxes that can do the unthinkable. Another way the setting effects the theme is they are in a big city.

The plot effects the theme as well. For example without all of the exciting things going on it wouldn't build up to the Climax which is usually the most exciting part of the story which is really needed.

That is how the author helps with the theme by using the characters, plot, and setting.

POV POINT OF VIEW and Conflicts

It is in Annie's point if view, or first person point of view.

Some of the conflicts of the story are the boxes themselves, because if Annie never had opened them it never would have happened. Another way there is conflicts are the Business Men. Another way is Crutchley all of the conflicts are external

Except when she was like fighting herself about opening the boxes. Another internal conflict is Henry, he likes Annie, but he doesn't want her to not like him.