Study Questions for Damon Knight's "The Country of the Kind" [1955]

Knight's story addresses the tensions between utopia and dystopia by creating a disaffected, unlikable protagonist who rejects the comforts of a utopian society primarily because he is a misfit, an anomaly who cannot join the society but who cannot be removed or eliminated because of the society's utopian values. Consider the following issues as you read the story:

  1. Early in the story, the unnamed narrator and protagonist's behaviors seem bizarre and unacceptable. Does your attitude about the protagonist change in any way by the end of the story?
  2. What details begin to explain the protagonist's behaviors? What exactly do we learn about the protagonist's personal history? His birth and the condition that led him to be alienated from the utopian society? How does the society respond to his condition?
  3. Are his behaviors ultimately justified?
  4. What comment might Knight be making about the nature of utopian societies through his depiction of this alienated protagonist and the society's response to him?
  5. What is the significance of the protagonist's sculptures, which he places everywhere that he travels? Of the note that he leaves pinned beneath each sculpture?