14 My Side Of The Mountain Discussion Questions

My Side of the Mountain is a middle-grade adventure novel written and illustrated by American writer Jean Craighead George. It was published in 1959 and tells the story of Sam Gribley, a young boy who runs away from his family’s crowded New York City apartment to live in the wilderness of the Catskill Mountains.

The book has been praised for its realistic portrayal of wilderness survival skills and its exploration of themes such as independence, self-reliance, and the connection between humans and nature. Here are some discussion questions that will help you explore the novel further.

My Side of the Mountain Questions

  • Sam Gribley’s journey of self-discovery and independence is a central theme in “My Side of the Mountain.” Discuss Sam’s motivations for leaving his family in New York City and seeking a life in the wilderness. How does his experience in the Catskills shape his understanding of himself and his place in the world? Consider the challenges he faces, the skills he acquires, and the relationships he forms with both animals and humans.

  • The novel portrays a deep connection between Sam and the natural world. Analyze Sam’s interactions with animals like Frightful the falcon, The Baron the weasel, and Jessie Coon James the raccoon. How do these relationships contribute to Sam’s survival and overall well-being? Discuss the significance of his ability to communicate and coexist with animals, as well as the lessons he learns from them about resourcefulness and adaptability.

  • Sam’s resourcefulness and ingenuity are evident throughout the story as he adapts to life in the wilderness. Examine the various survival skills Sam develops, such as building a shelter, hunting and gathering food, making clothes, and preparing for the harsh winter. How does his knowledge and creativity enable him to overcome obstacles and thrive in his new environment? Consider the role of both practical skills and mental resilience in his success.

  • The arrival of spring brings unexpected challenges for Sam as his solitary existence is disrupted by the intrusion of outsiders. Discuss the impact of Matt Spell’s discovery of Sam’s secret life and the subsequent visits from Bando and other friends. How does Sam grapple with the conflicting desires for solitude and companionship? Analyze the significance of the Gribley family’s decision to join Sam in the mountains and the implications for his future.

  • “My Side of the Mountain” is a coming-of-age story that explores themes of independence, self-reliance, and the relationship between humans and nature. Reflect on the lessons Sam learns throughout his journey and how they might resonate with young readers today. Consider the relevance of the novel’s themes in a world increasingly disconnected from nature and reliant on technology. Discuss the potential impact of Sam’s story on inspiring young people to explore their own connections to the natural world and pursue their own paths of self-discovery.

  • Sam’s relationship with Bando, the English professor who becomes his friend and mentor, is a significant turning point in the story. Analyze the dynamics of their relationship and how it challenges Sam’s solitary existence. In what ways does Bando contribute to Sam’s growth and understanding of the world? Discuss the potential implications of their friendship on Sam’s future decisions and aspirations.

  • “My Side of the Mountain” is often described as a celebration of nature and wilderness survival. Examine the author’s portrayal of the Catskill Mountains and the various plants, animals, and natural phenomena Sam encounters. How does the setting contribute to the overall mood and atmosphere of the story? Discuss the ways in which the novel might inspire readers to appreciate and respect the natural world.

  • The story is told through Sam’s first-person narrative, primarily in the form of journal entries, notes, and drawings. Discuss the effectiveness of this narrative style in conveying Sam’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. How does the use of journal entries create a sense of immediacy and authenticity? Analyze the role of Sam’s drawings in enhancing the reader’s understanding of his environment and daily life.

  • Throughout the story, Sam demonstrates a strong sense of ethics and responsibility, especially in his interactions with animals and nature. Discuss Sam’s ethical considerations when hunting and gathering food, capturing and training Frightful, and interacting with other wildlife. How do his actions reflect a respect for the natural world and a desire to live in harmony with his surroundings?

  • “My Side of the Mountain” has remained a popular and enduring classic for young readers for over 60 years. Analyze the reasons for its enduring appeal and relevance across generations. Consider the timeless themes of independence, self-reliance, and connection to nature, as well as the engaging narrative style and relatable protagonist. Discuss the ways in which the novel continues to resonate with readers today and inspire a sense of adventure and appreciation for the natural world.

  • Sam’s family dynamics and his relationship with his parents play a subtle yet important role in the story. Analyze the significance of Sam’s parents allowing him to embark on his solo adventure and their eventual decision to join him in the mountains. How do these events reflect changing attitudes towards parenting and independence in the mid-20th century? Discuss the potential impact of Sam’s experiences on his relationship with his family and his understanding of their values.

  • The novel touches upon the theme of environmentalism and the importance of preserving nature. Examine Sam’s interactions with the natural world and his efforts to live sustainably. How does his resourcefulness and respect for the environment contribute to a broader message about ecological responsibility? Discuss the relevance of this message in today’s context of environmental challenges and climate change.

  • “My Side of the Mountain” can be seen as a commentary on the contrast between urban and rural life. Compare and contrast Sam’s experiences in New York City with his life in the Catskill Mountains. How does his perception of these two environments evolve over the course of the story? Discuss the potential implications of this contrast for readers’ understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of both city and country living.

  • “My Side of the Mountain” can be interpreted as a metaphor for the human journey of self-discovery and the search for meaning in life. Explore the symbolic significance of Sam’s journey into the wilderness and his ultimate decision to create a home there. How does his experience represent a broader quest for personal fulfillment and connection to something larger than oneself? Discuss the potential implications of this interpretation for readers’ own journeys of self-discovery.