Study Guide

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon Family

By David Grann

Family

Swiss Family Robinson shows us a family adapting to a harsh environment and enjoying their time in the process. Tree houses? Fun on the beach? Yes, please.

Yeah, well, it's a children's story, and it's also a lie.

The Lost City of Z shows us a reality in which explorers leave their wives and children behind to face the dangers of the jungle with a group of sweaty men; women and children are not allowed. They don't abandon their families because they're selfish and heartless (okay, they might be a little selfish and heartless); they do it because in real life, the Amazon jungle would eat their children alive. If the cannibals don't get them, the ants, snakes, and parasites will.

Mmm…children.

Questions About Family

  1. Does Fawcett have regrets about leaving his family behind? Does Nina wish he would stay?
  2. Why does Fawcett decide to bring his son with him into the jungle? Why does Lynch, in 1996, also decide to bring his own son? Why is it unusual for an explorer to do this?
  3. How are Grann's and Fawcett's family lives similar? How are they different?
  4. Who do you think has the harder job: Fawcett in the jungle, or Nina at home? Why?

Chew on This

Fawcett doesn't have any sweet reason for leaving his family behind. He doesn't do it because he cares about them; he does it because he will only take the strongest people into the jungle with him, and his wife, daughter, and son Brian aren't the strongest. Tough luck, kids.

A family can provide support, but it can also hold a man back. Grann may have continued his investigation into Fawcett's final resting place if he didn't have a family waiting for him at home.