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Themes

Where to start?

There's no two ways about it: Tropic of Cancer is absolutely littered with sex, so much so that the novel was initially banned for its explicit sexual content. Miller doesn't shy away from describing his and his friends' sexual encounters in detail—and boy do we mean detail. Not to mention, prostitution is all over the place, with almost every single woman selling her body in some way. Bottom line: this ain't Sunday reading.

Questions About Sex

  1. Why do all of the men in the book continue to pay for prostitutes if they're so broke?
  2. Is Henry Miller just going for the shock factor with his explicit descriptions? Or is there something more to all the sex talk?
  3. Do the characters in Tropic of Cancer find sex fulfilling? Why are they having so much of it?
  4. Are the women as sexually depraved/liberated as the men in this book?

Chew on This

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

For all of the detailed attention the male characters give to women's bodies in Tropic of Cancer, the sex is still very depersonalized.

Though he doesn't directly say as much, Miller clearly hates America because of its prudish attitude toward sex.

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