Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson Discussion Questions

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Novel units can be enhanced through thoughtful verbal class discussions. Use these questions to structure your class discussions for the novel ''Kidnapped.''


Robert Louis Stevenson is more widely known for his classic novels Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. However, his novel Kidnapped tells the tale of an adventure just as riveting as those masterpieces.

Published in 1886, Kidnapped follows the adventure of David Balfour, whose harrowing journey will likely captivate your students. Use these questions to guide your students through a reading unit on this novel.

Character Questions

  • In literature, a protagonist is the leading character whose struggles comprise the main conflict in the story. It is generally accepted that in dealing with this conflict, the protagonist grows and changes. Who does this definition apply to--David, Alan, or both? Explain using examples from the novel.
  • Compare and contrast David and Alan. What are their backgrounds? How are their personalities and viewpoints different? What does David like and not like about Alan? How do they help each other?
  • In literature, a foil is a character who is similar to another character but has some differences that serve to emphasize the other character. How is Alan a foil for David? What qualities of David's does Alan emphasize?
  • Analyze Alan's character. What annoying qualities does he possess? What sort of things does he care about? Do you admire him? Is he a greater character than David? Explain.
  • Discuss Ebenezer as a character. What is his role in the story? What choices does he make? What do those choices say about his personality? What sort of ailment does he have and what can that be a symbol of?
  • Discuss the character of Red Fox? Who is he? What is his real name? What is his purpose in the story? Why is Alan against him? Describe his death and how it involves David.

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