Study Guide

Princess Academy Man and the Natural World

By Shannon Hale

Man and the Natural World

The citizens of Mount Eskel don't fight against the mountain in Princess Academy—instead they embrace their home and the resources that it has to offer. The highlanders collect linder from the quarries for a living, and by working so closely with the rock, they've been able to somehow use it to communicate. They are so bound to the place they live and the linder they work with that they can communicate through something called quarry-speech, which lets people from Mount Eskel share memories with others and send messages.

On the flip side, outsiders like Tutor Olana, the bandits, and even Britta can't understand what they're saying, since they're not as close to the mountain. This comes in handy time and again as the plot thickens.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Do you think Miri would actually be happy if her family moved to the lowlands?
  2. How does quarry-speech work?
  3. Why aren't the lowlanders able to understand or hear quarry-speech?

Chew on This

The villagers on Mount Eskel can communicate through the linder rock because they have been so close to the mountain and land their whole lives; they can feel what others don't.

The lowlanders may think of the highlanders as hicks, but it is in their closeness to the land and the linder rock that the highlanders are able to forge community and form shared memories.