Study Guide

Angle of Repose Isolation

By Wallace Stegner

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Although it follows several generations of the Ward family, Angle of Repose is held together by one common feeling: isolation. There's the isolation of Susan Ward, who moves thousands of miles away from everyone she knows and loves. There's the isolation of Oliver Ward, who dedicates himself to his work with an obsessive focus. And then there's the isolation of their grandson, Lyman, who has somehow convinced himself that he deserves to be lonely. This can all get to be a bummer at times, but the novel ultimately speaks to the importance of fighting these feelings of isolation by being a part of a real community.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Why has Lyman isolated himself in the Zodiac Cottage?
  2. How does Susan fight her feelings of isolation?
  3. What are some examples of psychological isolation in the novel?
  4. Do you think Lyman will become less isolated after the events of the novel? Explain.

Chew on This

Ultimately, Susan copes with her feelings of isolation in an unhealthy way: by starting an affair with Frank.

After his divorce, Lyman undergoes a period of self-imposed isolation that culminates in his writing of Angle of Repose.

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