Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Education

By M.T. Anderson


In Octavian Nothing, education is all tied up with moral ethics. What is the right way to educate a person, especially if that person happens to be enslaved? Is it okay to educate an enslaved person as a scientific experiment without the subject's knowledge of the experiment? And what counts as education anyway? Does everything need to come from a book, or do you learn more from experience? At the College and beyond, education is a major player in this book.

Questions About Education

  1. Is Octavian's experimental education under Mr. Gitney a good thing or a bad thing?
  2. What kind of an education do the other characters (besides Octavian) get?
  3. What is the relationship between narratives and learning?
  4. What does Octavian learn through Bono and other slaves?

Chew on This

It doesn't matter that the College gives Octavian an education; it's still an experiment done on an enslaved person.

Sure the College uses Octavian like a lab rat, but who cares? He gets educated and lives a pretty good life at the College.

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