Study Guide

The Demon's Lexicon Man and the Natural World

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Man and the Natural World

As you can guess from the title The Demon's Lexicon, there are a few things in this book that aren't exactly natural if we're thinking about nature as we know it. Like, well… demons. The thing is though, that Alan believes demons can take on human characteristics—that they can love and be loved, and that they can become part of the natural order of things. But can they? Can something supernatural fit into the natural world?

In a lot of ways, the way this theme plays out in The Demon's Lexicon reminds us of the way it plays out in Frankenstein, where we see various human parts stitched together to create a monster, and have to wonder: just how human is that monster?

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. By the end of the book, what is your opinion of Nick: is he more demon than human or more human than demon? Explain.
  2. When Nick is first introduced in the story, how is he described? Do any of his characteristics or behaviors cause you to question his humanity? What about his level of compassion and kindness toward others? These are characteristics he seems to lack, but when you first meet him as a character, do these things cause you to question whether or not he might be human? Why or why not?
  3. Do you know other people who seem kind of callous toward others, the way that Nick does early in the story? Have you ever been in a situation where you kind of thought you should feel bad for someone or sad about something but the feelings just weren't there? We're pretty sure most people have had this experience, so don't feel bad about it—just think about it. Why do we feel compassion when we do? Why don't we feel it when we don't? And which, in your opinion, makes us more human: the moments when we have compassion or the moments when we don't?
  4. Does Nick's level of "humanity" seem to change at all over the course of the story? How? When? And the biggie: why?
  5. What are the things that separate humans from animals? Do you think animals feel love, anger, sadness, sympathy? Why or why not? Are people who have trouble experiencing certain emotions less human than people who experience emotions fairly freely? What about people who are highly emotional—people who cry during Hallmark commercials or get bent out of shape by small things? Are they the most human of all?

Chew on This

The ability to experience emotions like love, empathy, sadness, fear, and joy is a major factor that separates humans from animals. And demons.

Regardless of how much Nick learns about how to behave in the human world, he will always be a demon at his core and will never experience human love firsthand.

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