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Setting in Calvin and Hobbes

Assessment Model Print

Okay Literary Analysis

This fair literary analysis describes the various settings used in Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes comic strips.

Title: Setting in Calvin and Hobbes

Level: Grade 11, Grade 12

Mode: Response to Literature

Form: Literary Analysis

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Setting in Calvin and Hobbes

Student Model

Setting in Calvin and Hobbes

Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, uses settings to tell different stories and underline different themes. Watterson often shows Calvin in the typical haunts of a 6-year-old boy, both at home and out in nature. He also shows Calvin in imaginary places with aliens or dinosaurs. Wherever Watterson shows Calvin, you can expect to find a laugh and maybe something to think about.

Most often, Watterson shows Calvin and Hobbes at home or school. Calvin's bedroom is messy, with clothes and toys lying around, rumpled blankets on the bed, and monsters drooling under the bed. His dinner table is often the location of a battle with goopy food that fights back, showing that Calvin is a picky eater. Calvin's tree house is where he and Hobbes hold meetings of GROSS—Get Rid Of Slimy girlS—and where they plot water-balloon attacks. The front yard is where Calvin makes snow-people in ridiculous scenes, showing his imagination and sick sense of humor. The bus stop is where Calvin complains about going to school, and Mrs. Wormwood's class is where he suffers through school. Susie's house is where Calvin struggles to understand girls and usually fails. These places show he is a regular kid.

Watterson also likes to show Calvin and Hobbes in natural settings. The woods behind his house have many opportunities for adventure. Calvin often rides his wagon down steep slopes and off cliffs while talking about philosophical ideas. He usually ends up facedown in water at the bottom. He also often gets stuck in mud. Once he finds a baby raccoon that had been hit by a car and tries to save it but it dies, and another time he finds a dead bird, and both times he thinks about death and is sad. These places let Calvin show he is a regular kid but often thinks like an adult.

Watterson also likes to show Calvin in imaginary settings. When he is Spaceman Spiff, he is often crash-landing on alien planets and captured by gross slug people that turn out to be his parents or teacher. When he is Tracer Bullet, he is a detective in an old-style black and white movie and often has to respond to a dame who is trouble (his mom). Calvin and Hobbes sometimes use a cardboard box as a time machine to visit the time of the dinosaurs, or sometimes they use it as a transmogrifier to turn them into strange creatures. These adventures show that Calvin has a strong imagination.

In Calvin and Hobbes, Watterson uses setting to give Calvin a place for adventure. Whether he is at home, at school, in nature, or lost in his own dream world, Calvin likes to live life to the fullest. That's one reason people read these comics. They get to live life along with Calvin.


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