Jacob Have I Loved Questions and Answers
by Katherine Paterson

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How is the theme of Jacob, Have I Loved related to the genre?

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The young adult novel Jacob, Have I Loved is historical fiction.  It was written in 1981, but takes place in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  The title refers to the sibling rivalry between Jacob and Esau from the Bible.  It is about twins who are also rivals, because one is prettier than the other.  One is always protected, and the other cast aside.

The two twins, Caroline and Louise, live on an island called Rass Island in the 1930’s.  Caroline is the beautiful one who gets everything, but Louise is the independent one.

After supper sometimes one of my parents would go back with me, but more often I went alone.  I didn’t really mind.  It made me feel less helpless to be a girl of fifteen doing what many regarded as a man’s job. (p. 185)

Although Louise gets less attention, she manages to grow up and become a midwife.  She delivers a set of twins, and her childhood comes back to her as she has to decide if she should sacrifice one to save the other.

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