Stuart Little Critical Essays

E. B. White


(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...

(The entire section is 611 words.)