Study Guide

Jacob Have I Loved Death

By Katherine Paterson

Death

Albus Dumbledore famously said, "To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." Yeah, Dumbledore said a lot of awesome things, and we think he'd be amused by the characters in Jacob Have I Loved as they grapple with "the next great adventure." The characters in this book approach death in a variety of ways. Louise isn't afraid to embrace it during her darkest moments, while Grandma fears it. But the Captain is of the Dumbledore school—he's ready to go when it's time.

In short, everyone dies, but not everyone is happy about it.

Questions About Death

  1. Do you think the Captain is right about the virtues of getting old and embracing death? Why or why not?
  2. Grandma has always been religious, but she seems afraid to meet her maker. Why do you think that is?
  3. Why do you think Louise decides on a profession that's all about fighting off death?

Chew on This

In Louise's darkest moments, death and the death of her sister seem like a comfort. Hey, we said they were her darkest moments.

The Captain can embrace death because he's lived and learned from life, while Grandma has always been afraid and bitter about life so she fears its end, too.

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