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What are the main themes in the book The Story of Edgar Sawtelle?

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nlee715 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 7, 2012 at 11:27 PM via web

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What are the main themes in the book The Story of Edgar Sawtelle?

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted May 8, 2012 at 12:25 PM (Answer #1)

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In the novel, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, the main character Edgar is born mute.  As a result, one of the themes is the isolation he feels.  He cannot communicate with others outside the family very well, and withdraws to the family's dog farm.  At the beginning of the book, Edgar is still in his childhood phase, but when his Uncle Claude appears whom Edgar does not like, he begins his transition out of childhood into a more adult state. When Edgar's father dies mysteriously, Edgar suspects Claude who is already trying to gain his mother's sympathy and favor.  This growing up or coming of age is another theme in the story, and while the reader roots for Edgar, the story ends tragically.  The other two themes I see in the novel are the love and loss which Edgar's family experiences.  The family loves each other as seen in the care of Edgar and the family dogs whom they have bred for years.  The losses are many: the father, some of the best dogs, the innocence of childhood, and the sadness and anger of revenge.  In the end, Edgar finds proof that his Uncle Claude killed Edgar's father, Edgar is stabbed with the same poison which killed his father, and Claude dies in the fire.  The theme of loss is carried through to the very end.

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