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A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

by Patrick Ness

Suffering Theme

Who's to say which is worse—physical suffering or emotional suffering? While Conor's mom is obviously in a tremendous amount of pain, she gets to be at peace and out of pain, eventually, while the rest of the family has to stay alive and suffer the grief of her loss. But, to be fair, they also get to live. No matter which way you slice it, there's enough suffering for everyone in A Monster Calls and then some. You'd better bring the tissues.

Questions About Suffering

  1. Would you want special treatment if you were in Conor's position, or would you get angry like he does? Have you ever known anyone in his situation? How did they act?
  2. Is it truly possible to die of grief, like the king's wife in the monster's second story?
  3. Why do we never see any signs of suffering from Conor's dad? Or do we?
  4. Do the monsters ever seem to suffer? If so, how so?

Chew on This

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

Note the parallel between the king's wife in the monster's story crying for her daughters and Conor's grandma crying in her bedroom for hers. The monster tells Conor the second story in part to help him deal with his grandma's emotions.

Conor's wrecking of his grandma's house might be a way of causing someone else as much pain as he's feeling, of taking away something as precious to them as his mom is to him. It's not healthy, but it sure is cathartic.

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