Ideas for Reports and Papers
1. James Thurber drew his own illustrations for this story. Choose a few that interest you and discuss how they contribute to your enjoyment and understanding of the story.
2. In the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Peter Scholl says this of Thurber's fairy tales: "Thurber's questing heroes manage to break the withering forces of evil and restore order, meaning, and purpose to the world." Is this statement true of The White Deer? What are the forces of evil in this story? How are they broken? How would describe the order that is restored?
3. E. B. White described The White Deer as "exhibit A in the strange case of a writer's switch from eye work to ear work." White refers to Thurber's having become blind before he wrote this tale. Choose and discuss one or more examples that show Thurber may be working more for the reader's ear than for the eye.
4. There seems to be some mystery about why King Clode's wife died so young. Think about what the characters say on this topic, then write a short chapter that might be included in this tale as a flashback to show how Clode and his wife got along.
5. Thurber uses many elements of the fairy tale in his story. Read a tale like this one in which a handsome prince frees a princess from a spell. Examples might include "Snow-White" and "The Sleeping Beauty." Write about one or more interesting ways in which Thurber's tale is like or different from the fairy tale you read.