50 pages 1 hour read

Tana French

The Witch Elm

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2018

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Essay Topics


Much of The Witch Elm’s descriptions focus on light and darkness, with settings becoming darker as the novel progresses. What do light and darkness symbolize? How are the novel’s settings enriched by this symbolism?


Toby recognizes a rude, hostile nature in his nephew, Zach. Examine Toby’s, Susanna’s, and Leon’s commentaries on nature and nurture, and how they believe certain parts of themselves are innate. Is Zach’s temperament a product of nature or nurture? Why?


During Detective Mike Rafferty and Toby’s final scene together, Rafferty lures a stray cat into the garden with food and tells Toby the cat can be useful. How does this exchange symbolize Rafferty’s power dynamic as a detective? Does Rafferty qualify as a good detective? Why or why not?