Stuart Little Analysis
by E. B. White

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Stuart Little Analysis

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Stuart Little is a novel about conflict, coping, persistence, and hope. Stuart Little, so small a creature in so large a society, brings into focus the major theme of the individual versus a larger, hostile environment. Stuart personifies the positive aspects of the human spirit. He is unrelenting in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Secondary themes include an awareness of individual differences, the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, and the impact of societal conventions on the quality of life of individual members. These themes are crucial for young people coming of age. White masterfully mixes humor, satire, and concerns about social justice, allowing the characters to present specific issues without proselytizing.

Stuart is challenged by his size and must struggle to complete even the simplest tasks that most people take for granted. Yet, the struggle has made Stuart resourceful, not cynical or bitter. In some ways, he becomes the personification of the American hero as he overcomes adversity and seeks adventure. Unlike the typical American hero, Stuart elects to travel north instead of west. In yet another digression from tradition, he leaves young Harriet behind, choosing to continue his search for Margalo, his symbol of perfection and the embodiment of the unattainable goal.

White uses anthropomorphism, the giving of human qualities to animals, to advance his themes. This approach enables the fantasy to come to life, allowing him the artistic freedom to develop the characters and their dialogue as the story unfolds. Stuart barks nautical terms at the helm of the Wasp; he quotes romantic poetry as he waits to save Margalo. Later, he sheds his “motoring togs” for the more professional attire of a substitute teacher. Satirical humor shines through as a two-inch-tall mouse successfully leaps to ring a tiny desk bell, commanding the attention of the class. Stuart is able to persuade his students to think about the important issues of fairness and inequality.

Although Stuart seems to conform to each situation that he encounters, he never does fit into society, no matter how hard he or others try to help him adapt. His father forbids all mention of mice in their home, out of apparent concern for Stuart, masking the family’s inability to accept Stuart as he is. Although they do love him, Stuart cannot be truly comfortable in their home. The same is true in the outside world. Stuart is constantly endangered by his...

(The entire section is 611 words.)