Study Guide

Samuel K. Roth in Shiver

By Maggie Stiefvater

Samuel K. Roth

The Unlikely Wolf man

Typically when you think of a werewolf, you think of fearsome strength, uncontrollable rage, and/or the soaking wet, glistening, ripped abs of Taylor Lautner. Ahem. Sam doesn't evoke any of these images (although we never get an in-depth analysis of his abs). Sam is artsy and sensitive. He composes songs. He likes poetry. And he lives almost entirely in his head. When he kisses Grace for the first time he says, “Even in that moment, I deconstructed the kiss” (16.90). This isn't a guy driven by unbridled testosterone. He's intellectual to a fault. It's possible Sam is so introspective because he's shy, but it might also be because, as a wolf, he has no choice but to live in his head for so long. During those long winter months, all he can do is think.

Necessary Aggression

Sam is a pacifist at heart. He's so non-aggressive, in fact, that he comes across as selfish at times. At one point Sam worries, “If [Jack] became a problem, I didn't think I was strong enough to do what would have to be done” (20.20). So, Jack might be a werewolf and kill somebody, but that's not the bad part; the bad part is that Sam might have to do something about it. Sorry, dead people, Sam’s not sure he can step it up.

He's also pretty squeamish. He hates hunting, and he hates blood, but even though he had those reservations we just mentioned, he's able to be violent when he needs to be. Unfortunately there is no room for passivity in the world of werewolves. Sam lives in a world where he “could see perfectly what it would look like to kill Shelby” (37.12).

This raises an interesting question, though. Is it possible for some situations to be resolved without violence? We just can't picture anyone sitting down and hugging it out with a werewolf.

A Little Verklempt

The love story between Sam and Grace is heartwarming. The heat is necessary as the temperature in Shiver steadily drops. It's almost as though they were meant for each other, as Sam saved Grace from the wolves when she was young, and then she waited for him even though she had no idea he was human. It's all very romantic.

Sam gets to do a lot of things with Grace that he doesn't get to do as a wolf: read, go to candy shops, cook delicious food, and, um, be an animal under the sheets. Grace inspires Sam to live his human life to the fullest. He lives like he's dying, and he kind of is, since soon he will become a wolf forever. It's enough to bring tears to your eyes.

However, there's one thing that Grace really wants Sam to experience that we're not sure if he even wants to. Grace makes a big deal about Christmas: Trees! Presents! Candy canes! But since he's named Samuel K. Roth, we have to wonder if Hanukkah might be more his style.