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Avi's novel Crispin: The Cross of Lead contains multiple themes blended into one narrative. Perhaps the overarching theme is coming of age; a theme which deals with growing into one's own identity and the responsibilities of becoming a mature person. For the first time in his life, Crispin has his own identity and must make decisions for himself. Though at first he is very unsure of himself, by the end of the book he transforms into an assertive young man.

The conflict of the story falls under the category of "man vs society," and the fact that Crispin is on the run for most of the book really emphasizes this. Crispin unknowingly (until the end of the book) challenges the social structure of a feudal Medieval village. To try to maintain the established order, Steward Aycliffe declares Crispin a Wolf's Head. In the end, Crispin has the opportunity to change the social order and inherit his father's title, making a peasant boy the Lord of the Manor. He instead chooses to free his friend Bear and continue the happy life they have had together.

Another theme could be described as something akin to perseverance, retribution, or revenge. All of his life, Crispin and his fellow villagers have been bullied and abused by the corrupt Steward Aycliffe. As peasants, they have no agency to speak out or act against him. Crispin keeps his head down and tries to stay out of Aycliffe's way until the life of his friend is at stake. Even in confronting Aycliffe, Crispin does not wish to harm him or punish him for the mistreatment he has dealt out. When Aycliffe tries to attack Crispin and Bear on their way out of Great Wexley, Aycliffe is impaled upon the stake of one of his own guards. Aycliffe's untimely death means he will never reap the rewards of power he was so trying to keep out of Crispin's hands.

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Crispin: The Cross of Lead

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