Study Guide

I Am the Messenger Fear

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In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then a new president of the United States, said that the "only thing we have to fear is fear itself." It's a little more eloquent than Piggy's "I know there isn't no fear," but the point is basically the same: the most dangerous thing around is probably fear.

And it's definitely Ed's problem in I Am the Messenger—he's afraid of getting out there and doing anything, of taking a leap and actually living his life. He won't even tell his friend Audrey how he really feels about her, or talk to his buddies Ritchie and Marv about what's really going on in their lives. In fact, it's not until he starts getting aces in the mail that he even thinks about these fears. There's a lot out there to be afraid of (take the man on Edgar Street for one), but ultimately the scariest thing is being too fearful to shake things up.

Questions About Fear

  1. What does Ed fear the most? Does he conquer these fears, or succumb to them?
  2. How do the cards help Ed see what his friends are afraid of? How are their fears related to Ed's own?
  3. What's the relationship between fear and identity? How do Ed's fears change over the course of the novel?

Chew on This

Fear stops Ed from acting or stepping out of line in his life.

By the end of the novel, Ed has learned to overcome his fears because he is more aware of who he wants to be.

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