Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 430

Giles Goat-Boy: Or, The Revised New Syllabus is a combination of a number of literary forms. It is an allegory in which the twentieth century world is seen as a huge university, the West Campus standing for the “free world” or Western universities and the East Campus representing the Communist bloc. Other participants in the political struggle include Siegfrieder College (Germany), the Bonifascists (Nazis), and the Student-Unionists (local communists). Characters represent John F. Kennedy, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Milton and Dwight Eisenhower, among many others. There are frequent references to Campus Riots One and Two (World Wars I and II), and everyone fears that a third and apocalyptic campus riot may break out. The WESCAC computer resembles the genie of nuclear power, out of its bottle and uncontrollable.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Giles Goat-boy Study Guide

Subscribe Now

The novel is also an epic account of how a legendary hero saves his country and his people, and it thus resembles such literary antecedents as Homer’s The Odyssey, Vergil’s The Aeneid, and Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen (1590 and 1596). Like the heroes of those works, Giles is wounded, endures trials, fights villains, descends to the underworld (in George’s case, the circuits of the giant computer), and finally delivers his people from the rule of a pretender (the false tutor).

An obvious model for Giles is the Greek king Oedipus, who, like Giles, had difficulty walking and committed incest, something George fears he may have done when he believes that Anastasia is his sister. Like Oedipus, George also kills his father, when he short circuits WESCAC. The connection between these two works is cemented when...

(The entire section contains 430 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this Giles Goat-boy study guide. You'll get access to all of the Giles Goat-boy content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Characters
  • Critical Essays
  • Analysis
  • Teaching Guide
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Critical Evaluation