Study Guide

The One and Only Ivan Home

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Question: What is home?

Is it the place where you're born? Because if so, then home is an experience that the animals in The One and Only Ivan can never return to.

Is home wherever you happen to reside? Because if so, then Ivan and his animal pals are forced to call cages inside a mall their homes, which are definitely not the locations they'd choose for themselves.

Or is home the feeling of being loved? Because if this is the case, then home is built between Ivan, Stella, Bob, and more. They might be caged, but no one can break their connection to each other

The book doesn't answer this question definitively, and instead it just sort of dangles over every page, food for thought and up for readers to interpret.

Questions About Home

  1. Gorillas in the wild live in groups consisting of several adult females and their offspring. How does this compare to Ivan's home at the Big Top? 
  2. Is Ivan's real home the Congo or the Big Top mall, or is it somewhere that doesn't exist yet?
  3. Does Ivan find a physical home eventually, or will home always be in his imagination?
  4. What is Stella's idea of a home?

Chew on This

Ivan and Stella have to think of the Big Top Mall as their home because they are unable to leave. The alternative is to think of themselves as spending their lives in prison, which is just too depressing.

No matter how much love flows between the animals, a life in captivity is always a compromised version of home.

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