Chapter 1

Chapter 2

3 & 4

5 & 6

7 & 8

Edition used:
Methuen Children's Books Ltd. 1984

Translated from the Danish by L.W. Kingsland.

The Movie

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investigating - circumstances - existence - irresistibly - precipice - hurtling - staggering - affection - meddle - scrabbling - apprehensive - dejected - muzzle - interrogate - distinctly



1. At the beginning of Chapter 7, the author explains how David finds out about his mother and the situation he is in.
(a) Do you feel the author has done this in a convincing way? Explain.
(b) Do you feel that, at this stage in his life, David's fear of them and they are covincingly explained by the author? Give your reasons.

2. Why did the man hate David, while at the same time looking after him? Why did the man let David escape?

3. Why do you think did the author include the episode in which David has to work for the "evil- hearted" farmer?

4. After having seen many good people, David is suddenly thrown back into a cruel atmosphere.
(a) Give examples to show how the Swiss farmer and his family are like them.
(b) Compare David's time with Signora Bang with the time at the Swiss farmer's. Use the following headings: freedom of thought and freedom of action.
(c) What is the connection between the seasons and David's stay with the farmer?

5. Throughout the story, David has been careful to protect himself, to hide his identity and thus, keep his freedom. In the end, he does not gain his freedom on his own; King sacrifices his own life for David.
(a) How does David get back among them? How does he know?
(b) To what degree does David's decision to run indicate a change in his attitude towards them?
(c) Why does the dog's action affect David so deeply? Consider his last prayer (p.185) as well as his final understanding of the dog's behaviour.
(d) How does this affect David's attitude as he completes the last leg of his journey?
(e) How has King's act changed David's idea of freedom?

6. Why does the book end the way it does, without you knowing anything more about David and his mother?

Figures in the Round

Although the author concentrates on the character of David, he has drawn his support- ing characters realistically and well rounded. He has done this by showing more than one side of their personalities, so that they are more than just one-dimensional characters.

These realistic portraits are not only a challenge to the author but to the reader. As in dealing with real people, the reader must decide how to merge into one personality many different - even contradictory - traits.


Some statements about the personality of characters in I Am David follow. Give evidence from the book to first support the statement (pro). Then contradict the statement (con).

Finally, based on that evidence, draw your own conclusion that explains the character's nature. An example has been done for you.


The man hates David.

a. Pro: He hates David because he is the child of the woman he loved but couldn't win.

b. Con: He helps David escape as a last goodwill gesture towards the woman he loved.

c. Your conclusion: The man loved David's mother, but hates her offspring because sh rejected him.

1. David is naive and ignorant

2. David is paranoid

3. David lies a lot

4. Carlo is evil.

5. The American couple is mistrustful

6. Mrs. di Levana del 'Varchi is grateful that David saved their daughter's life.

7. Signora Bang is very understanding

Select a figure from a popular TV show. Write down the character's name and the series he or she is featured in.

Decide how often your character exhibits each of the following five qualities:

1. Acts unwisely

2. Is compassionate

3. Shows a good sense of humour

4. Is moral

5. Becomes angry

Use the following rating scale: never - seldom - sometimes - often - always

Briefly cite some evidence to back up your decision.

Is this character well rounded? Explain your answer.

The Moral of the Story Is ...

I Am David  is a special kind of coming of age story. By the time the book is concluded, David has learned many - sometimes painful - lessons. It is also a story about freedom, not only David's escape from the camp but also about his liberation from his own fears. These morals (principles or lessons taught by a story or experience) prepare David for the new world he is entering.


A list of morals and learning experiences in I Am David  follow. For the first three questions, list a learning experience that helps David see the moral. Then for the last four questions, create a moral that expresses what David gains from the learning experience.

1. Moral: Don't judge others too harshly.

What would the learning experience be?

2. Moral: Lack of knowledge leads to misunderstanding.

What would the learning experience be?

3. Moral: What one doesn't comprehend, one fears.

What would the learning experience be?

4. Learning experience: The man lets David escape from the camp.

What would the moral be?

5. Learning experience: Mrs. di Levana del 'Varchi doesn't want David to stay with her family.

What would the moral be?

6. Learning experience: Signora Bang doesn't pry into David's background.

What would the moral be?

7. Learning experience: The dog sacrifices its life so that David can escape.

What would the moral be?

Getting the Message

There are several important symbols used in I Am David that help the author com- municate on a deeper level.

A symbol is an object or action that stands for itself and yet also suggest another meaning. For example, a dove is a type of bird. But it can also be used to suggest the idea of peace.

Understanding the use of symbols in I Am David provides important clues for deter- mining the theme or message of the novel.


Following is a list of objects and actions that are used as symbols in I Am David. (Chapter references follow each symbol in parentheses.) Give an appropriate symbolic meaning, and give evidence from the novel to support your choice.

Example: Symbol: Carlo (4)

a. Meaning: In Carlo, David sees everything that is rotten and worthless in people.

b. Evidence: Carlo wants to fight him but David doesn't want to fight back because it

would make him just as rotten and worthless.

1. Johannes (1)

2. The man (1)

3. The piece of soap (1, 2)

4. David can't smile (1-5)

5. The Italian scenery (2-4)

6. Crossing the road (2)

7. " They " - "Them"  (1-5)

8. God of the green pastures and the still waters (2)

9. The mirror (3)

10. Maria di Levana del 'Varchi (4,5)

11. The farmer (7)

12. King, the dog (7,8)

Introduction - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapters 3-4 - Chapters 5-6