Study Guide

Angle of Repose Memory and the Past

By Wallace Stegner

Memory and the Past

A historian by trade, Lyman Ward spends his life in the past in Angle of Repose. He's actually more comfortable in the past than in the present. Unfortunately for him, however, this love affair with the past gets complicated when he dives headlong into his most ambitious project yet: a partially fictionalized account of his grandparents' lives. As Lyman investigates his family's tumultuous past, he uncovers some shocking truths, and he's forced to come to terms with the reality behind his rose-colored nostalgia for his youth. What he finds isn't all that pretty.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Why does Lyman love studying history so much?
  2. How does Lyman's view of the past differ from Rodman's?
  3. Does Lyman romanticize the past? Why or why not?
  4. Are Oliver and Susan ever able to let go of the trauma of their past? Explain.

Chew on This

Essentially, Lyman studies the past because he doesn't like facing the present.

While Lyman believes that you have to look to the past in order to learn about the future, Rodman doesn't think that you have to look any further than the present.

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