© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH


by Robert C. O'Brien

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. The NIMH experiments made the rats better—smarter, stronger, and healthier. But the experiments were done against their will. Does the fact that the experiments were beneficial to the rats make it okay that the rats had no choice in the matter? Is it okay to experiment on anyone (animals included) in the name of science? Why or why not?
  2. Some might say that the rats should be grateful for their enhanced, super-rat capabilities. But the rats often feel troubled and sad. Why do their new skills and outlook on life cause them so much internal pain? How do you imagine you might feel in a similar situation?
  3. Jenner believes that it's foolish to attempt the Plan because the rats have all they need. He says to Nicodemus "You've got this idea stuck in your head. We've got to start from nothing and work hard and build a rat civilization. I say, why start from nothing if you can start with everything? We've already got a civilization" (22.56). Nicodemus, on the other hand, believes that the rats will never be civilized unless they stop stealing. Who do you side with, Jenner or Nicodemus? Why?
  4. Jonathan Frisby never tells Mrs. Frisby about his time in NIMH. Why do you think he made this choice? Was he right not to tell her, or would it have been fairer of him to tell her everything? Would she have believed him?
  5. Mrs. Frisby risks her life to put the sleeping powder in Dragon's bowl, even though she knows that if she's caught, her children will almost certainly die without her. Was she justified in putting her family at risk because of her beliefs about what is right and wrong? Why or why not?
  6. A lot of characters in the novel seem to have certain expectations for Mrs. Frisby. Does she overcome these expectations? Why do you think the other characters have these types of expectations about her?
  7. It seems like there is a certain code of honor among the animals. How would you describe this code? What makes you say that?
  8. Why do you think that of all the characters, Mrs. Frisby is the only character who is called by her last name?
  9. There are many minor characters in the story, like some of the Frisby children. How important are they to the story? If you do not think they are important, why do you think they are in the story?

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...