37 pages • 1 hour readWilliam Steig
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Known as Abel for short, Abelard is the protagonist of the novel, and the narrative introduces him in the beginning as a refined, sheltered mouse whose life with his wife, Amanda, is characterized by comfort and routine. Having been born into wealth, Abel is unaccustomed to adversity or discomfort and enjoys material pleasures such as fine clothing and food. Thus, when he finds himself stranded on a wild, deserted island, it becomes a place for profound physical and emotional transformation. Abel must rely not on money or possessions but on himself and nature for survival. As he lives day to day and sometimes hour by hour, Abel struggles to meet his basic needs and quickly learns the value of resourcefulness and practicality. Each success surprises him, and he comes to appreciate his newfound strength. Abel’s daily struggle to survive helps him discover untapped wells of capability and creativity he never knew he had. Realizing he’s capable and creative fundamentally changes how he views himself within his community and the larger world.
While marooned on the island, Abel perfects survival skills such as starting a fire, storing food, building shelter, and escaping predation.