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Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

by Robert C. O'Brien

Transformation Theme

Characters in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH are transformed by their interactions with other characters, by their experiences, and, of course, they're transformed by science. The thread that connects all of these different types of transformation is knowledge. When the rats escape from NIMH, they don't simply flex their new muscles and scurry back to life as they knew it. Instead, they use their knowledge to transform their lives and their society. Mrs. Frisby's life is transformed by knowledge as well. Knowing the backstory on her husband opens up all sorts of possibilities for her and her children.

Questions About Transformation

  1. Are the rats more transformed by their physical changes or the mental and emotional changes they experience?
  2. Is transformation seen as the only way to move forward in this book? If not, what are some other possibilities? 
  3. Can it be said that all of the characters undergo a transformation in the novel? If not, do the non-transformed characters represent a failure to progress?
  4. Jenner went through all the same changes that the rest of the rats did. Why did the change seem to affect him in different ways?

Chew on This

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

The rats cannot really take credit for the changes to their lives; it was all NIMH's doing.

NIMH gave the rats the tools to change, but it was their own ingenuity and perseverance that really allowed them to change their lives and create the Plan.

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