Study Guide

Stranger in a Strange Land Transformation

By Robert A. Heinlein


If you've checked out our two cents on "Genre," you know that Stranger in a Strange Land is first and foremost a coming-of-age story. And you know what that means—a lot of transformation. Mike begins the story with the human mentality of a child. Even though he's twenty years old, by Martian standards he's a nestling. As he further integrates into human society, he grows into his adulthood, a change signified by the transformation of his scrawny body into something more Hollywood—and without a Rocky-inspired montage to boot. As he becomes more human, the people around him transform, too, into something more psychologically (and physically) Martian. Bottom line: when one person transforms, everyone close to them is likely to transform, too.

Questions About Transformation

  1. Why do Jill and Dawn begin to look like each other? Does this say anything about women's roles in the Church? Why or why not?
  2. What characters transform the most throughout the novel? Is their internal transformation coupled with a physical transformation? If so, what do you think is the reason for the physical transformation?
  3. The transformations in Stranger are linked thematically with the novel's coming-of-age story. Jubal does not have a physical transformation, but he does he have an internal transformation. Does he come of age in some way? Why or why not?
  4. Patty's tattoos change during the course of the novel. What are those changes? What do these changes tell us about Patty?

Chew on This

Mike's transformation isn't complete until he is martyred.

Any transformation of human society also transforms the afterlife.

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