Study Guide

The Art of Fielding Literature and Writing

By Chad Harbach

Literature and Writing

No offense to Big Papi, but we don't associate baseball with literature any more than he probably associates hockey with tap-dancing. Sure, he may have a book of his own, but it doesn't exactly look like high literature. However, these two worlds collide in The Art of Fielding, and we do mean collide quite literally, especially when Owen gets clocked in the face with a baseball while he's reading a book. Who knew reading could hurt so much?

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. Why does Owen read instead of paying attention to the baseball game that he is playing in? Why doesn't the coach or anyone else try to stop him?
  2. What is Henry's relationship to books? What book does he read again and again, and why?
  3. How does Moby Dick and Herman Melville's legacy factor into The Art of Fielding?

Chew on This

At some point during the novel, all of our major characters relate to a book—Henry has The Art of Fielding, Mike studies for his dissertation, Pella purchases a book with her first paycheck, and Guert built his entire career on Melville. Books are important to all of them.

But, on the flip side, books and literature have their place, and people's refusal to put them down has consequences. We don't just mean Owen getting smacked by a baseball, either. Henry's blind devotion to The Art of Fielding actually sets him up for failure, and Guert's early focus on Melville defines him and his college and puts them both in a rut.