Study Guide

Crispin: Cross of Lead Fear

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Crispin is afraid all the time, and no wonder—he's been raised on fear of the steward in Stromford, and as soon as his mother dies and he's all alone, that fear is realized as John Aycliffe starts trying to kill him, a fear Crispin lives with for the entirety of Crispin: The Cross of Lead.

Add to that the everyday fears of life in 14th-century England—execution, starvation, outlaws, the plague… we could keep going—and then top it off with a healthy terror of an angry God and a fiery afterlife. That's a recipe for serious anxiety if we ever heard one. We give Crispin credit, though: He's honest about how scared he is, and he often does brave things in the face of fear.

Questions About Fear

  1. What do you think Crispin is most afraid of? Back it up by quoting the book.
  2. What actions does Crispin take because of his fear? Do you notice any patterns here? What do you make of fear as a motivator for Crispin?
  3. What actions does Crispin take in spite of his fear? What does this tell you about Crispin's character and what matters to him?
  4. How does fear—Crispin's and others'—drive the plot? Be specific, yo.

Chew on This

The entire plot is driven by John Aycliffe's and Lady Furnival's fear of Crispin.

The entire plot is driven by Crispin's fear of John Aycliffe.

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