Study Guide

The History of Love The Home

By Nicole Krauss

The Home

On one level, the theme of "The Home" once again points back to issues of "Identity" and "Family." But it can also be considered in its most literal sense—how the physical places where the characters live illustrate something else that's happening beneath the surface. For example, Leo's apartment is unbelievably cluttered—so cluttered he's surprised he hasn't been buried alive yet—in the same way that his mind is saddled with painful memories and his body is burdened with the weight of eight decades. The fact that most of The History of Love takes place in New York City, surrounded by millions of strangers, powerfully reinforces the loneliness and isolation felt at one time or another by every character in the book (see the loneliness theme for more).

Questions About The Home

  1. Although the reader might first picture Leo being trapped in all the junk, or at least constricted by it, he finds a way to live there with great creativity and joy, even imagining "the roar of the invisible crowd" in his ears (1.1). How does this describe Leo's emotional life as well?
  2. How do you think Leo's fifty years as a locksmith have affected his feelings about home and family?
  3. Leo and Alma both travel to Isaac's house in Connecticut, but while Leo breaks in and wanders inside, Alma is content to stay outside and leave a note for him on the door. What does this say about each of them (besides one of them being a locksmith), and how they feel about the sanctity of personal space?
  4. Alma is constantly sneaking around the house, looking through other people's things. Do you think she would feel comfortable doing this outside the confines of her own home?

Chew on This

Leo's awe when he sees the opulence of Isaac's and Bernard's respective houses serves to estrange him from his son even more—now in terms of class.

Bird's Noah act is more than an act. His construction of the ark is his attempt to create a home for his family, in effect becoming the "man of the house."