From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Topics for Discussion
by E. L. Konigsburg

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Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Claudia plans to run away because she was "bored with simply being straight-A's Claudia Kincaid. She was tired of arguing about whose turn it was to choose the Sunday night seven-thirty television show, of injustice, and of the monotony of everything." Are these and the other things Claudia complains about—housework, babysitting duties, insufficient allowance, and so forth— enough justification for running away from home?

2. Claudia tells Jamie that she "didn't run away to come home the same." What does she mean? Does she "come home the same"? Why or why not?

3. How realistic is this story? Which events seem believable and which seem unlikely?

4. Claudia chooses Jamie because she feels that they complement each other perfectly: "She was cautious and poor; he was adventurous and rich." Are there other ways in which Jamie and Claudia complement each other? What makes them such a good team?

5. Mrs. Frankweiler knows immediately that Jamie has been cheating at war, the card game he plays with his friend Bruce. How does she know that? What does her intuition say about the similarities between her and Jamie?

6. Mrs. Frankweiler seems to understand Claudia better than Claudia understands herself. What makes Mrs. Frankweiler so sympathetic towards Claudia?

7. Mrs. Frankweiler goes to quite a bit of trouble and inconvenience to write this account of Claudia and Jamie's experience and to send it to Saxonberg. Why does she do it?

8. This book really has only three characters in it: Claudia, Jamie, and Mrs. Frankweiler. Why did Konigsburg choose such a small number?

9. What would be the effect on the story if Konigsburg had chosen to show more of Claudia's parents, including their reactions to her running away?

10. This story is set in the late 1960s. How might it differ if it were set in the present? How would it be the same?

11. Claudia and Jamie have a routine at the museum very much like that they had at home—well-balanced meals, regular bedtime, education, and so forth. To what extent do they run away from home, and to what extent do they take home with them?

12. Considering the pains most museums take with their security systems, how likely is it that Claudia and Jamie could get into the Metropolitan and stay there, undetected, for as long as they do?