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by Terry Pratchett

Nation Theme of Coming of Age

You'd probably need two hands and two feet and a tail to count all the books you've read in which the young protagonist comes of age by the end of the book: The Outsiders. To Kill a Mockingbird. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Pretty much everything by Gary Paulsen. So you know the drill by this point.

But in Nation, the book starts with Mau having already completed his coming-of-age ritual. All done! So now he's a man and we can move on... right? Right? Well, Nation shows that it's not that easy. You can't just flick a switch and suddenly become an adult. (We wish. Maybe if that happened, we'd stop running out of laundry detergent at 11 p.m. the day before a big job interview.) It's an ongoing process of learning to take control of your life and make your own decisions.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. How does Mau's coming-of-age differ from Daphne's? What are Daphne's coming-of-age rituals?
  2. When in the book does Mau become a man (if he does)?
  3. Are coming-of-age rituals necessary? Would Mau and Daphne have progressed toward adulthood without them?

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