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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Shopping for Porcupine  >  Discussion Questions
Brothers on the Trapline
Essay Summary: 
Seth and Kole set out to check their traps. The abundance of furbearing animals in the area and the high prices of furs make their daily trapping lucrative for two young boys. They work closely together and learn the art of reading tracks and trapping, never anticipating what the future will hold for their way of life.

Discussion Questions:

How does this essay show the closeness of the two brothers? (p. 60)

Points to consider:

  • They work together, in cold conditions, to run the trapline, sharing the workload.

What does running the trapline teach the two boys? (p. 63-64)

Points to consider:

  • They have to learn to read tracks, set the traps, and be prepared for moose and other dangers.

Why do you think "furbearers" were growing "plentiful" during the time when Kole and Seth were trapping? (p. 68)

Points to consider:

  • Climate change was beginning to impact animal populations. Animals were becoming more plentiful as the vegetation and seasons changed.

What does Kantner mean when he says "we didn't know what awaited fur prices, or that sentiment against trapping animals would grow"? (p. 68)

Points to consider:

  • Fur prices would crash as interest in furs would decline.
  • Public campaigns against trapping and a growing perception that trapping is cruel or inhumane would work against those trapping for a living.

How are the paths of the two brothers different from what Kantner might have suspected? (p. 68)

Points to consider:

  • His brother would go on to college and become a computer programmer.
  • Kantner, with his distaste for writing and his dyslexia, would go on to write an award-winning novel, and he would quit trapping.

Why does Kantner claim he can put his "daily welfare before that debt" he owes to the land and the animals?

Points to consider:

  • Perhaps he feels he owes his success in life to the lessons he learned from the land and the animals.

Final Questions:

How do our childhood visions for our future selves often differ from reality?

What skills does trapping require that could have helped Kantner as a writer and photographer?

How might the increase in furbearing animals have been a precursor to the coming changes Kantner would witness?

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