The Sign of the Beaver Literary Elements

The Sign of the Beaver Literary Elements


Children's Fiction; adenture; historical

Setting and Context

Maine in the 1700s, beginning of settlement on Indian lands

Narrator and Point of View

Third person narrator telling the story from Matt's point of view

Tone and Mood

Optimistic and adventurous, occasionally threatening and apprehensive

Protagonist and Antagonist

Matt is the protagonist, the challenge of surviving in the forest the antagonist

Major Conflict

Conflict between the Indians and the white men who are settling on traditionally Indian lands


The arrival of Matt's family after he has waited for them almost four months


The way that Ben clearly covets the rifle and engineers am opportunity to stay at the cabin foreshadows his early morning theft of it


Matt tells Attean that the bear might have killed them which is a huge understatement as the bear was female and protecting her cub, and would certainly have killed them in order to protect it.


Many times the book Robinson Crusoe is alluded to as the relationship between Matt and Attean often resembles that of Crusoe and Man Friday although it is actually the perceived "savage" who resembles Robinson Crusoe and the white boy who is more like his manservant


Attean goes into the forest alone to seek his manitou, a Spirit guide whose image will appear to him when it is time for him to become a man and a hunter


Matt's father warns him to beware of the Indians but paradoxically it is only the white man in the form of renegade hunter Ben that he actually needs to be afraid of


There is a parallel between Matt and Attean both coming of age and fulfilling the roles that their respective families have for them, as they step from childhood into manhood and assume the responsibilities that go along with it

Metonymy and Synecdoche

The clan of the Beaver represents the wishes of its leader, Atteans grandfather - the clan decides if Matt is welcome


The forest is a keeper of secrets giving the body of trees the ability to have secrets like a person can

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