Study Guide

A Monster Calls Death

By Patrick Ness

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Oof, where to begin? A Monster Calls has death on every page, because Conor's mother's cancer is the central truth of the novel. No matter how much he tries to deny, avert, cheat, or even flat out ignore death, that ol' monster keeps right on knocking. In the end, though, Conor learns that while he can't avoid death and loss, he can learn to cope with them, which is the real truth he's been searching for.

Questions About Death

  1. Does Conor's mom admit to herself she's dying, or is she truly as in denial as she encourages Conor to be? How can you tell?
  2. Could Conor's grandma be the most realistic about his mother's death just because at her age, she's seen more people die? Can you think of another reason she might find it easier than Conor and his parents to face facts?
  3. Are we supposed to think that the pit monster is death? Does this mean that in this book, death is straight up evil?

Chew on This

To deny aging, like Conor's grandma does, is another way of denying mortality. She's just as bad as the rest of 'em.

When it comes right down to it, because he can't handle death, Conor's dad chooses his sick daughter over his grieving son, at the time his son needs him most.

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