Sometimes a Great Notion Themes

Sometimes a Great Notion Themes

Family, love, and self-esteem

This novel shows a beautiful portrait for how hateful parents can often cause children to grow up with low self-esteem. Henry is the kind of person who speaks first and thinks second. He is defensive and stubborn, and he doesn't connect well with others. Ironically, that's how his children turn out too, so it's no wonder how he became that way himself: He was probably emotionally abused or neglected by his own father. The solution is to break the cycle by building a family on love and acceptance, and to work through life with your loved ones, instead of muscling through life alone.

The disorder of society

One of the major threats that faces the Stamper family is the unfortunate location of their town in the flow of time. Because the Pacific Northwest is so beautiful and well-forested, it is a prime place for a logging community, but now, the public demand for wood has changed, and it seems that technology is making the physical workforce obsolete. The town starts a strike, but the subtle implication is that no matter what they do, they are going to be outmoded. This is a picture of how society changes over time, and it's a picture of how fragile a town really is in the greater scheme of time.

The value of stability

Because Henry is emotionally stubborn, he does not handle the impending doom of his home. The house is perched precariously on a peninsula, and underneath his house, the river has been widening rapidly. Now, the water passes nearly beneath the home and anyone with eyeballs could see that the house is eventually going to capsize into the river, because of it's degrading foundation. But Henry is too "manly" or something to do what it takes to save his family, so instead, his life becomes more and more unstable. This is a way of showing the value of stability, because without enough humility to change and adapt, time will win its battle against Henry.

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