Bless the Beasts and Children
Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics
According to Swarthout, what defines manhood? How does his definition of manhood differ from that of the Box Canyon Boys Camp? How does the novel trace the coming-of-age struggles of the Bedwetters?
What similarities exist between the buffaloes and the boys in terms of their respective roles in society? How do they relate to one another?
How does the author use popular culture to portray both the climate of the nation at that time he published the novel? How does it shape the Bedwetters' behavior and ideals?
Suggested Essay Topics
What religious imagery does Swarthout employ in Bless the Beasts and Children? Do you believe he intended to portray Cotton as a Christ figure? Why or why not?
What role does a sense of place play in this novel? How does this story illustrate themes and values of the American West?
How is Box Canyon Boys Camp a microcosm of the larger society? How are misfits penalized at the camp and in society?
What symbolic role does the buffalo play in the American psyche?
Explain how the Bedwetters' sense of teamwork and togetherness changes throughout the course of the novel. What does each boy contribute to the collective effort of the mission?
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