Mary Poppins Summary & Study Guide

Dr. P. L. Travers
This Study Guide consists of approximately 40 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Mary Poppins.
This section contains 770 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Mary Poppins Summary & Study Guide Description

Mary Poppins Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Mary Poppins by Dr. P. L. Travers.

The following version of this book was used to create the guide: Travers, P.L. Mary Poppins. Reynal and Hitchcock, 1934.

Travers’ novel is divided neatly into twelve chapters, each of which features a title that hints at the chapter’s content. “East Wind,” for example, hints at Mary Poppins’ arrival in the narrative, accompanied as she is by an East Wind. The book, though progressing in chronological order, does not move steadily through time but rather hops from event to event as the children in the book adjust to Mary Poppins’ new role in their household.

“East Wind” introduces the Banks family and Jane and Michael in particular, making it clear that they are two of the main protagonists of the story. Mary Poppins arrives at their home and becomes their new nanny, charming them with special powers and magic. “The Day Out” describes Mary Poppins’ day away from the Banks household, which she spends with her good friend Bert. Mary and Bert cannot afford to have tea at a shop, so they instead transport themselves to a scene straight out of one of Bert’s paintings, and are served tea there as if by magic.

“Laughing Gas” describes a visit made by Jane and Michael to see Mary Poppins’ uncle, Uncle Albert. The children get along extremely well with the old man, who helps them float up in the air and entertains them. In “Miss Lark’s Andrew,” Jane and Michael learn not to judge others based on their appearance, since the fancy-dressed dog from next-door turns out to be a much sweeter companion than they expected. Andrew, the terrier, proves himself to be as good a dog as any in the neighborhood by helping out his friend and inviting him into his own home.

In “The Dancing Cow,” Jane and Michael spot a cow on their street, whom Mary Poppins claims to know. She tells the children the story of the cow and how she used to dance until she removed the fallen star from her horn which had given her this ability. “Bad Tuesday” sees Michael wake up on the wrong side of the bed, resulting in a terrible day for him during which he abuses the family’s staff and his own siblings, learning a lesson through Mary Poppins’ magical abilities and a magical compass which she uses to help him and Jane travel the world.

“The Bird Woman” is a short chapter in which Jane and Michael make a trip into the city to visit their father. Along the way, they see the Bird Woman, who sells bags of crumbs for the birds to feed on, enchanting the children. “Mrs Corry” is the next chapter, in which Jane and Michael and Mary Poppins visit Mrs Corry’s special shop which sells gingerbread and other sweets. The children meet the mysterious Mrs Corry who is kind to them but rude to her daughters. They buy gingerbread but are shocked to later see Mrs Corry and Mary Poppins working together to glue the gold paper stars which come with each piece of gingerbread back into the sky, as if they were real.

In “John and Barbara’s Story,” Mary Poppins and a friendly neighborhood bird teach John and Barbara about the tragedy of growing up, since the twins, who are Jane and Michael’s younger siblings, have special abilities that they will soon lose. John and Barbara are shocked to learn that they will forget their special abilities once they are older, and, upon growing out their teeth and turning one, they do indeed lose those skills. In “Full Moon,” Mary Poppins’ birthday falls on a full moon, prompting the zoo animals to host a party for her, headed by the Hamadryad who is a relation of hers. Jane and Michael sneak out of their house and join in on the festivities.

“Christmas Shopping” is the penultimate chapter of the book in which Mary Poppins takes the children to buy gifts for their family. Along the way, they meet Maia, a star in the famous Pleiades, who is good friends with Mary, and Jane and Michael witness a tender moment between the two when Mary Poppins gives Maia the brand-new gloves she loves so much. “West Wind” is the final chapter in the book. Mary Poppins senses that the wind has changed and, as she promised in the very first chapter, she leaves the Banks household the same day. Jane and Michael are distraught until they realize that Mary left them a message in which she says she will see them again someday.

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This section contains 770 words
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