Study Guide

The One and Only Ivan Memory and the Past

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Memory and the Past

In The One and Only Ivan, Ivan claims that forgetting about the life he led in the wild is key to his contentment. On the flip side, Stella remembers every moment since she was born and is quite attached to her memories, even the painful ones. Stella isn't afraid to look into the details of her past and she wishes Ivan would do the same, but Ivan resists. Once Ivan finally starts remembering things clearly, though, his story takes a pretty significant turn. In this book, remembering the past is an important factor in building a brighter.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. What does Stella mean when she tells Ivan there is a difference between "can't remember and won't remember" (not sleepy.254)?
  2. How important are memories to who we are? 
  3. How does not remembering the details of his past strengthen Ivan? How does it weaken him?
  4. Can Ivan overcome the power that his memories hold over him?

Chew on This

Ivan's focus on living in the moment is an important survival tool for him in captivity.

The only way Ivan is able to change is by letting go of the present, and letting his mind wander to the past and future.

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