Abel's Island Study Guide

Abel's Island

Abel's Island by William Steig

Abel's Island is a 1976 novel by William Steig, about a mouse named Abel who gets stranded on an island. During a heavy rainstorm that interrupts a picnic, Abel is separated from his wife Amanda and swept down a river. Eventually he arrives on an island where he must fight for survival, fending off an owl, the cold weather and his loneliness. After a frog named Gower fails to help him, Abel swims across the river and makes a long journey home.

The story is set in the fictional town of Mossville, which is inhabited by civilized anthropomorphic animals, such as mice, rabbits, toads and so on. As the book begins, Abel, a mouse, is enjoying a picnic with his wife Amanda, but they are interrupted by a fierce rainstorm and are forced to take shelter in a cave nearby. The two are separated when Abel braves the storm to retrieve Amanda's scarf, blown away by a gust of wind. The storm washes Abel into a river and he is swept downstream until he is stranded on an island.

Abel attempts to escape the island several times, but fails, and finally realizes that he must survive on the island by himself. He finds a log and makes it his home in the winter. To ease his loneliness, he creates his family out of clay and talks to them. Poor Abel has to live through the hardest times, including battling an owl and surviving through a harsh winter.

Later in the novel, another stranded victim from the river, a frog named Gower, comes and befriends Abel. Later, he leaves promising that he will send for help when he gets back home. However, weeks pass and no one comes. Gower either forgot (due to his lack of memory) or never made it back. Abel then decides to swim against the fierce river after the water level has dropped sufficiently. Abel eventually makes the hard trip back and returns to Mossville.

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