Study Guide

The Mysterious Benedict Society Books

By Trenton Lee Stewart

Books

They're All Over the Place

Books. Mr. Benedict's house is crammed with them—they fill shelves, cover desks, hold up a potted violet, take up chairs, and are even stuffed in the piano, where the "strings had been removed, and in their place were more books" (3.146). But Mr. B isn't the only one who sees the value in books:

  • Reynie has read every textbook in the orphanage and frequently spends his spare time in the reading room.
  • Sticky devours books faster than Shmoop eats burritos (and that's fast).
  • Even Mr. Curtain seems to think books are important, though of course he keeps his in "locked cabinets—bookshelves, Reynie realized, but locked so no one could get at the books" (18.40).

And when Reynie is trying to resist the Whisperer's brainsweeping powers, he motivates himself to hang on and fight by remembering his favorite people and his favorite books.

But What Do They Mean?

So what are we to make of all this? Obviously books are important, and since the people who read them seem to be highly intelligent we can assume that they symbolize, to some extent, a good education and the acquisition of knowledge. And that, of course, is why Mr. C keeps his locked up. By controlling the knowledge people have access to, he can keep them ignorant of his plans as well as information that could help them to resist, rebel, or (scariest of all) read.

That's why at the Institute, the students' rooms contain no bookshelves. Although they do have a large TV cabinet (10.40). Hm. Speaking of TV….

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