Stranger in a Strange Land
The narrative viewpoint of the novel aligns itself with a number of different characters as the story progresses—at any given point the main perspective may be Jubal's, Jill's, Ben's, or any of the more minor characters. Given this, can Mike truly be said to be the main character of the novel? Why do you think that relatively little of the story is seen from Mike's point of view?
As the story progresses, more and more of Mike's friends become his disciples in the Church of All Worlds. People who initially resist his teachings, such as Duke and Ben, become avid followers of Mike. Why does Mike's "father" Jubal, who supports all of Mike's endeavors, never join the church himself until the very end of the novel?
What is the significance of sexuality in the novel? In what ways does Mike's sexual awakening parallel his spiritual awakening? Do you consider the sexuality to be romantic? Explain.
Many critics have accused Heinlein and Stranger of sexism—on the other hand, some have asserted that the novel has an empowering feminist message. What do you think? Cite examples from the text to support your argument.
What does Mike hope to accomplish by sacrificing his life or his human body to the angry mob at the end of the novel? In what way does his final conversation with Jubal influence his decision to make this sacrifice?
Look at the structure of the novel. While great lengths of time are often compressed—months of action are summed up in mere paragraphs—in Part Two, "His Preposterous Heritage," the action of a couple weeks stretches out to fill the longest section of the novel. Why is this section of the story allowed more space in which to unfold than the rest?
The narration of the book is sometimes cagey and evasive; seemingly important details of the narrative are often left to our imagination. Why, for example, might Heinlein have chosen not to tell us what happens in the private confrontation between Mike and Digby, which ends Digby's life?
Before Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein had an successful career as a writer of traditional science fiction, many of them simple adventure stories intended for an adolescent market. What elements of traditional formulaic storytelling does Heinlein retain in Stranger? What elements does he subvert? How do the traditional sci-fi aspects and the more experimental, genre-expanding aspects work together?
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