Study Guide

The Forest of Hands and Teeth Sacrifice

By Carrie Ryan

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Like a truly glorious slice of cake (is it lunchtime yet?), sacrifice comes with multiple layers. There's the personal layer of sacrifice—Mary struggles with what she is willing/not willing to sacrifice for her own personal goals and dreams. Then we've got the group sacrifice layer—Cass argues that Mary's unwillingness to sacrifice her dreams will hurt their group as a whole. And finally, we drip on a special coating of societal sacrifice—Sister Tabitha's decisions revolve solely around what she feels is best for the society. Self, Group, Society: The three-tiered Sacrificial Trifle. But unlike a trifle, when layers of sacrifice get mixed up together, it's not pretty. The characters in The Forest of Hands and Teeth learn that lesson the hard way.

Questions About Sacrifice

  1. Which tier of the Sacrificial Trifle is the most important?
  2. What, if anything, could get Mary to sacrifice her dreams?
  3. What did each of the characters sacrifice throughout the story?
  4. Is there one sacrifice that trumps all the others, or are they all equal in their value?

Chew on This

If he hadn't been bitten, Travis would not have sacrificed his life for the good of the group.

Mary would have sacrificed her dreams if it meant she would get her parents back.

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