Study Guide

The One and Only Ivan Freedom and Confinement

By Katherine Applegate

Freedom and Confinement

The Big Top Mall and Video Arcade is no place for animals—nonetheless a gorilla and a couple of elephants—but it's where Ivan and his pals find themselves locked up in The One and Only Ivan. Here life is cruel, confining, and lonely, and for each of these creatures, freedom is something from the past. It's a terrible fate, but one they generally accept… until Ruby arrives, that is, and Stella's dying wish is that the young elephant know a different fate. Once Ivan gets his eyes on the freedom prize, there's no stopping him.

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. What does Ivan know about freedom? What does he believe freedom is?
  2. Ivan is confined physically by a cage. How is he confined mentally or psychologically?
  3. Why does Ivan focus on Ruby's freedom but not his own?
  4. Where does Ivan find mental and spiritual freedom?

Chew on This

Freedom is all about physical constraints, so even in the zoo Ivan isn't free.

Freedom is a state of mind, so once Ivan takes control of his life and gets himself to the zoo, he's as free as can be.

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