Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The Clan of the Cave Bear is a story set in prehistoric Europe during the last ice age; it has sometimes been categorized as “caveman” fiction. The novel’s exact setting on the Crimean Peninsula is detailed in a map preceding the text. The heroine of the captivating story is Ayla, a Cro-Magnon girl who, at age five, loses her family in an earthquake and survives a number of terrifying events, including the attack of a cave lion, before she is found half-dead by Iza, the medicine woman of a Neanderthal clan uprooted by the same earthquake and in search of a new cave. Iza empathizes with the barely alive child and convinces her brother Brun, the leader of the Clan of the Cave Bear, to let her bring the child along. When the girl recuperates from her wounds, it is obvious that two separate worlds have met: The Neanderthal Clan members are described as short, stocky, bowlegged, dark-haired, with large heads, and communicating mostly with hand gestures; Ayla, on the other hand, is thinner, taller, blond, blue-eyed, and talking freely in a language that the Clan does not understand.

Initially, everyone is suspicious of the orphan, who is so different from them and who belongs to what the Clan terms the Others. Ayla’s biggest supporter is Creb, the Mo-gur, the mighty magician of the entire Clan of the Cave Bear. Creb, brother to Iza and Brun, is a misshapen, one-eyed cripple, who, as a child, had survived the attack of a cave bear. Ayla shows...

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The Clan of the Cave Bear Historical Context

The Venus of Willendorf Published by Gale Cengage

What Happened to the Neanderthals
Perhaps the people most frustrated with the commercial success of The Clan of...

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The Clan of the Cave Bear Literary Style

Point of View
The Clan of the Cave Bear uses a third-person, omniscient narrator to explain Ayla's...

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The Clan of the Cave Bear Literary Techniques

After writing her first enormous manuscript, Auel realized that she needed help in the techniques of fiction writing. Always a self-educator,...

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The Clan of the Cave Bear Social Concerns

The Clan of the Cave Bear combines important interests of American society in the 1970s — feminism and methods of survival — in an...

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The Clan of the Cave Bear Topics for Further Study

Research the anthropological and archeological evidence about the origins and the extinction of the Neanderthals and compare the scientific...

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The Clan of the Cave Bear Literary Precedents

The Clan of the Cave Bear draws on a number of popular novel traditions. Its numerous anthropological details at times give it the...

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The Clan of the Cave Bear Related Titles

In The Clan of the Cave Bear Auel concentrates on Neanderthal daily life and the difference between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon...

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The Clan of the Cave Bear Adaptations

The Clan of the Cave Bear was released as a motion picture in January 1986 by Warner Brothers. Directed by Michael Chapman and...

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The Clan of the Cave Bear Media Adaptations

The Clan of the Cave Bear was made into a feature film directed by Michael Chapman, scripted by John Sayles, and starring Pamela Reed...

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The Clan of the Cave Bear What Do I Read Next?

The Valley of the Horses is the 1982 sequel to The Clan of the Cave Bear. The story follows Ayla after she leaves the Clan....

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The Clan of the Cave Bear Bibliography and Further Reading

Sources
Carlin, Margaret, "Love in the Ice Age," Review, in The Chicago Tribune, December 24, 1990, p. 7....

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