So in my book, I do this thing where I try to set the reader up with a "theme thought" for a given scene. I planted lots of them throughout my book, but I think I may be having trouble in getting my point across, which would be deeply saddening for me, because this is by far my favorite thing to do in writing. To give a quick example: In the very beginning, the main character a 10 year old boy witnessing his mother cling to life after having just been duped out all the savings she made working in the brothels. He is now literally down to his last dollar. With what little strength she has, his mother begs him to leave her and worry about himself. The boy is at odds because he so badly wants to live a life unburdened, and he wonders what it might be like to live in the cleaner, holy city adjacent to the slums he calls home, but his mother is the only person he's ever had--and probably ever will have. The scene ends with the boy vowing to himself that he will stay at his mother's side and he swears that he wouldn't go to the holy city even if he were welcomed with open arms. When the next chapter begins, the main character has grown 7 years, is a resident of the holy city, and now wants to leave more than anything. My goal was to for the reader to immediately wonder, 1) "Oh wow, he's there!" 2) "How did get there if the gates are shut to people of his class?" 3) "Why does he want to leave?" and 4) "What became of his mother?" To be fair, I get a lot of compliments on my plot, even from people I don't know, but I never hear anyone saying the things I want them to say. Never. Maybe I haven't had enough readers yet? I don't want to outright say things without hinting at them, but when I ask my readers questions about the book, it'd be great to hear about these little things I add into the book, because my whole story is carried by these themes. I thought I was doing it well, but if no one's talking about it specifically, then maybe I am not. Is there some expert way to hint at plot development without expressly stating it?