Where the Wild Things Are Study Questions and Thought Experiments

16 10 2009

1. Describe the parenting philosophy demonstrated in the story.
Where the Wild Things Ought To BeCongress is coming back soon

2. Is Sendak giving an accurate portrayal of the imaginary life of a child, or is he giving a lesson on how to handle tantrums?

3. Have you ever been taking care of a child, and suddenly felt as though you were in charge of a feral beast? What triggered that feeling? How did you deal with it?
4. Is Max’s voyage objectively real, or is it all in his imagination? Give evidence from the text and pictures.
5. What lesson does Max learn?
6. Compare Max’s visit with the wild things to Harold’s explorations with his magic crayon, Milo’s journey past the Phantom Tollbooth, or another story of a child’s experience with the power of imagination. What are the story elements and narrative devices in common? What are the structural differences in how the story is told, and what lessons are learned?
7. Does the gender of Max’s parent (and the fact that only one is mentioned) make a difference to the story and its meaning?
8. Compare Max’s mother to Shel Silverstein’s Giving Tree.
9. In the book, Max visits the wild things without leaving his room. In the movie, he visits them while running away from home. How does this change your answer to questions 4, 5, and 6?
10. Will Max visit the wild things again?
11. Maurice Sendak reportedly drew the wild things as mythical beasts with characterization based on his extended family. How would the story change if the wild things were less visibly human?
12. Where do our ideas about wild things and other monsters come from?
13. Why are children afraid of monsters?
14. How do those fears manifest in adults?
15. Max tames the wild things with “the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once.” Why is this a trick? Why is it magic?
16. Compare the meaning of this “taming trick” to the one described by the fox in The Little Prince.
17. If you had a child like Max, would you let him have a wolf suit? Why or why not?
18. Why is the distance of Max’s voyage measured in units of time instead of distance?
19. What fantasies do you lose yourself in? Where do those fantasies come from? What motivates you to get lost into them?
20. Agree or disagree, and provide evidence from the text: Max’s experience in the story is a dissociative episode brought on by maternal rejection, and represents his superego allowing his id to rant and rave itself out of breath, and thus into submission.
21. Retell the story with a protagonist with a different gender, race, class, or national identity.
22. What changes did you make intentionally? What changes occured to you as you were telling the story?
23. Other than the island, what does the title refer to?



2 responses

17 10 2009

Early reports indicate that these questions may produce a mood that is sub-optimal for the experience of the film, so caveat lector: I make no guarantees, offer no refunds, and if you don’t have your ticket, you can’t get your laundry.

I will say that I quite like these questions too:

18 10 2009

this is awesome jake . . . will sit down with story & questions . . . are you expecting a full report in one of those fancy clear plastic covers?

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