Bud, Not Buddy Themes

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  • 0:03 What Is a Theme?
  • 0:25 Family
  • 1:15 Hope
  • 2:19 Racism
  • 3:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Abby Federico

Abby has taught elementary special education and has her master's degree in this area.

In this lesson, you'll learn about the major themes in the book 'Bud, Not Buddy.' By the end of the lesson, you'll have a better understanding of theme and what the four major themes in the book are.

What Is a Theme?

Have you ever had book discussion and talked about the major ideas or topics in a book? If so, you were discussing themes. Themes are main points of the story and are about a message or idea the author wants to convey. The following sections will teach you about the major themes in Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.


In the book, Bud's mother passed away when he was just six years old. Since then, he has been living in foster homes and orphanages. He only as a couple of items that were his mother's to remember her by. One of the items is a flyer for a musician, Herman E. Calloway. Bud is convinced that this is his father and sets out to find him. Throughout the book, Bud is determined to find the man who he thinks is his father. This illustrates the theme of the importance of family.

Bud finds out the Herman E. Calloway is not his father, but his grandfather. Bud then is left to wonder why his mother ran away from her family, and if she was unhappy enough to run away, why did she keep flyers of her father and his band? These questions once again center around the theme of family importance.


Even though Bud bounces from home to home, never having a permanent place of his own, he never gives up hope. While Bud is searching for Herman E. Calloway he has to overcome many obstacles, but he never quits and never gives up hope. We learn that Bud's mother used to tell him an old saying, that 'when one door closes, another one opens.' Bud uses this idea throughout the story to show the theme of hope, always thinking that eventually he would find his father.

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