Study Questions and Essay Topics
Who is the protagonist of Kidnapped, David or Alan? or both? Explain your answer.
Having a moral code—an idea of loyalty, honor, and "what is right"—is very important to most characters in Kidnapped, but many of them have very different conceptions of these ideas. What are Alan and David's different opinions these issues, and what effects do these differences have upon their relationship as well as the plot?
As his wife notes in the Prefatory Note, Stevenson wanted to portray David's adventure through Scotland as if he were moving through "a foreign country." Keeping in mind that the majority of Stevenson's readers would be English, not Scottish, how does Stevenson achieve this goal in his writing?
Suggested Essay Topics
Both David and Alan are good examples of archetypal characters. David is the archetypal youth who must go through many perils to finally achieve adulthood and come into his inheritance, while Alan is a good example of the "dashing rogue" archetype, a character who has his own code of questionable ethics, and has a high opinion of himself. Discuss how David and Alan fit these archetypes, citing specific examples from the book.
Once he and Alan see the warrant for their arrest, David realizes that if he separates from Alan, he would be almost completely safe from arrest, since the warrant does not describe him well at all. But David never chooses to leave Alan. David thinks they would both be safer if they split up, but he decides to stay with Alan due to his loyalty. Do you think this was the right decision? Why or why not?
Discuss the role of nature in Alan and David's flight through the Highland wilderness. Is it helpful or harmful?
At the end of the book, Ebenezer is forced to pay two-thirds of the yearly Shaws income to David, but gets to keep the last third and the house. Do you think this is a fair punishment for someone that tried to kill David, and then tried to sell him into slavery? Does Ebenezer deserve the reader's anger or sympathy?
In the chapter "The Quarrel," David and Alan have an argument. Is David right to treat Alan so coldly, or does he go too far?
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