What is meant by a "central question?"Can a central question be an issue that comes up in the book?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A "central question" is something that drives a particular work.  It does not have to be something that comes up outside of the book.  It can be something that comes within the book.  A central question is something that allows the work to develop.  It is a concept that the book is committed to developing and enhancing.  The central question of a work is what the work seeks to answer.  What does the work seek to address?  The central question lies at the base of the work and is something that the work places its focus upon.  The central question can be an issue that comes up in the work, but it is an entity that is recurring.  It is not something that appears once and disappears.  It is something that is present throughout the work, and appears in different forms.  The central question is something that helps to define the work in its own right and how it exists with other works.  This element of intertextuality and how it and similar works address the central question is something that becomes of vital importance to literary scholarship.