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Where the Wild Things Are: Summary & Characters

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  • 0:04 'Where the Wild Things…
  • 1:34 Characters in the Book
  • 2:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Valerie Keenan

Valerie has taught elementary school and has her master's degree in education.

Travel far from home with a boy named Max as he discovers a land filled with wild creatures and learns that being in charge isn't as easy as he may think. This lesson is the summary for 'Where the Wild Things Are.'

Where the Wild Things Are Summary

Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, is the story of a little boy and main character of the story, named Max. After his mother sends him to bed without dinner, Max falls asleep and his room immediately transforms into a moonlit forest surrounded by a vast ocean. There is a boat waiting for him, and Max is excited for the chance to travel to a faraway land and escape his mother's strict rules.

After sailing for quite some time, Max finally finds himself in a place where the wild things are. The wild things are big and ferocious but ultimately tame creatures. He is greeted by this group of creatures who try to scare him off by roaring, stomping, and showing their teeth and claws, but Max doesn't even flinch. Instead, he stares into their eyes without blinking. The wild things realize that Max is the most wild of all of them, and they make him king of the wild things.

With Max in charge, the wild things are commanded to 'let the wild rumpus start!' They spend days on end shouting, stomping, dancing, and swinging through the trees. When Max has finally had enough, he puts an end to the craziness by sending his subjects to bed without their dinner, just as his mother did to him.

At that point, Max starts to miss his mom. He realizes that being in charge is hard work, and he understands why his mother sent him to bed. Then, he smells something delicious, perhaps the dinner that he wasn't allowed to eat, waiting for him in his bedroom. Max decides that it is time to leave the wild things and sail back to the place where he is loved most of all.

Characters in the Book

Max is the main character of this story who learns a valuable lesson. While he starts out as untamable and naughty, his experience as the king of the wild things has given him a new sense of respect for his mother as his own leader.

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