"The Youth" is a great song by MGMT, even if the video is a little on the creepy side. But we're not talking MGMT here, we're talking MBS, where the youths are equally important (and far less uncomfortable to observe).
Lots of times when youth comes up as a theme in a book it's about people being obsessed with youth or worried about losing theirs (see The Picture of Dorian Gray for a great—and frightening—example). Indeed, that's a big theme in our society—just look at the magazines on newsstands and in the grocery checkout line or do an Internet search for "anti-aging" and see how many beauty products come up.
But in The Mysterious Benedict Society, we get a different take on youth because Trenton Lee Stewart is more focused on the talking about the value of young people, specifically kids: their skills, their abilities, their unique views, and the absolute necessity of including them as full-fledged members of society, not just mini-adults-in-training.
Questions About Youth
- Constance and Number Two both get pretty upset about the fact that adults tend to blow off kids' opinions on things (5.137-138). Have you ever felt unappreciated, disbelieved, or like your opinion doesn't count because of your age? If so, when? If not, do you think they're making a big deal out of nothing or can you relate? Explain.
- How are Mr. Benedict's and Mr. Curtain's views of children different? Have you met more adults in your life like Mr. B, or like Mr. C? Explain.
- Which adult characters in the book seem to value children, and which adult characters don't seem to? What do you think Trenton Lee Stewart thinks of the adult characters in each category? How do you think Stewart believes children should be treated in society? Why?
Chew on This
The main reason Mr. Curtain's scheme fails is because he underestimates the intelligence of children.
Trenton Lee Stewart's argument that kids should be respected by adults and included more fully in society is weakened by the fact that the kids in The Mysterious Benedict Society are completely unrealistic.