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Themes

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle lets us see the world through Charlotte's eyes, and as it turns out, she has quite an eye for detail. Her writing is characterized by long and vivid descriptions: her cabin, the captain's quarters, what everyone is wearing, and all of the ins and outs of the ship. Charlotte's attention to detail suggests that, as a writer, she's very concerned with what things look like. But is Charlotte only concerned with appearances? That is, does she value style over substance? Charlotte must eventually learn to make judgments that go beyond the mere surface of things. She must understand that there's sometimes a difference between seeming and being.

Questions About Appearance

  1. Can you judge a book by its cover?
  2. Does Charlotte change her role in life simply by changing her clothes? What else must happen?
  3. While Charlotte is able to dress as a boy on the ship, do you think any of the crew would be able to dress as a woman while on shore? Is gender bending a two-way street?
  4. What are the problems with a society that judges others based solely on appearance?

Chew on This

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

A person's physical appearance can tells us many things, but it's only a person's actions that reveal his or her character.

Clothing is a language all of its own and can be used to express oneself.

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