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Themes

Gatlin could never be mistaken for a cultural center. This little town might have phones and boats (er, little rafts made of sticks to navigate alligator-filled swamps) and motor cars, but not a single other luxury. No Starbucks, no movie theater, no Shmoop headquarters. No wonder Ethan feels stuck—where will he get his tall soy latte? Throughout Beautiful Creatures, our guy dreams of escape, marking places he reads about on a map. And Lena might just be his ticket out of town. What is it about living in a small town that makes you want to get out and see the world? Regardless of where you're from, have you ever felt that way?

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. Ethan says that there are only two kinds of people in Gatlin: "The stupid and the stuck" (Before.1). Our guy doesn't think he falls into either of those categories. What do you think?
  2. Why would anyone choose to stay in Gatlin? What keeps them there?
  3. Do you think Ethan or Link will ever leave Gatlin?
  4. In what ways does history repeat itself in the novel? Are the characters confined by history or can they make choices that will allow them to break out?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Ethan feels trapped in Gatlin and Lena's moved around her whole life. They should both stop complaining and realize that the grass is always greener on the other side.

Ethan and Lena are trapped by history, doomed to repeat the mistakes of their ancestors.

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