Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Kate Seredy explains in the foreword to The White Stag that she wrote the novel because she had felt dissatisfied with a book on Hungarian history that presented a dry “unending chain of facts, facts, facts” and argued that the Magyar (Hungarian) race was not descended from Attila the Hun. Her book, therefore, fictionalizes and romanticizes the westward drive of the Huns and Magyars and the life of Attila the Hun, using the rhythms and rhetoric of folklore as it establishes Attila as the founder of Hungary. Seredy’s black-and-white illustrations depict chiefly the warriors, who, like comic book superheroes, appear noble, mighty-thewed, and glorious. These drawings also hint at a slant to the eyes to reveal the Huns as an Asiatic race.

The book traces four generations of Huns. Nimrod, a great hunter, is the leader of a tribe suffering from hunger and illness. His two sons, Hunor and Magyar, have been gone for months, following a miraculous white stag. Nimrod asks their god, Hadur, for a sign that their fortunes will improve. Hadur sends first an eagle, which plunges into his sacrificial pyre; then two more, which depart northward and westward; then a fourth; and then a great red eagle, which flies away to the west. Nimrod interprets these signs: He is the first eagle, who is soon to die, while his two sons will lead their tribe nearer to their destined home. After they are gone, there will be another leader, and it will be his son, greatest...

(The entire section is 529 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The story begins somewhere east of the Ural Mountains of Central Asia in the dawn of prehistory, when the game deserts the ancestral hunting...

(The entire section is 259 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The White Stag is based on two early epic stories of the origin of the Magyars, The Miraculous Stag and The Lay of the White...

(The entire section is 273 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Seredy's story of The White Stag clearly appeals to Hungarian patriotism and may well have been conceived in response to her longing...

(The entire section is 138 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Why does Old Nimrod feel so weary and discouraged as the story opens? Where have his sons gone? To whom does Nimrod turn for support?...

(The entire section is 207 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Find information in an encyclopedia or history text about the Magyar people and the founding of Hungary. How does Seredy's account differ...

(The entire section is 159 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The White Stag is one of several of Seredy's stories for young adults that involve characters, themes, and settings from her native...

(The entire section is 150 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Bingham, Jane M., ed. Writers for Children. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988. Includes an excellent critical and biographical...

(The entire section is 176 words.)