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The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

by Brian Selznick

Memory and the Past Theme

For a man who works at the train station, Georges Méliès sure has a problem with baggage in The Invention of Hugo Cabret. And no, we’re not talking about literal suitcases or backpacks; we’re talking about Papa Georges’s past as a renowned filmmaker… and how he just can’t face any of it. The whole book deals with Hugo and Isabelle trying to chase down Papa Georges’s past while Papa Georges resolutely continues to run away from it. Of course, everything catches up to him in the end, but boy does he put up a real fight.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Why is Georges Méliès so intent on avoiding his past? What’s he running away from?
  2. What do you make of how in the end it is revealed that Hugo is speaking to us as an adult? Does the knowledge that this entire book is a memory of sorts change things for you?
  3. What do you think happened to Hugo during the six months between when he was living at the train station, and when he moved in with George Méliès?

Chew on This

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

Georges Méliès is constantly trying to avoid the past. But in doing so, he gets even more stuck in it.

The adult Hugo who is speaking to us at the end has come so far because of all the things that he learned over time from his two father figures: his actual father and Georges Méliès.

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