An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on John Green's An Abundance of Katherines. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of John Green

John Green was born in Indianapolis but spent most of his childhood in Orlando, Florida. His time at a boarding school outside Birmingham, Alabama, has informed some of his fiction, which he has largely written for a young adult audience. Green attended Kenyon College in Ohio, which is known for its robust creative writing program. After graduating in 2000, he briefly enrolled in the University of Chicago’s Divinity School and intended to become a chaplain; he never actually attended classes because he decided over the course of his time working with child hospital patients that he wanted instead to be a novelist. Later, his brief student chaplaincy became the basis for The Fault in Our Stars, his sixth novel, which he published in 2012. The novel received wide acclaim and was adapted into a film in 2014. Green had a cameo in the film and was recognizable to fans because of his internet presence in several YouTube series. These include Crash Course, which features educational videos hosted by Green, and Vlogbrothers, in which he and his brother, Hank Green, explain and discuss subjects ranging from pop culture to politics. Green has also complemented his novels by writing book reviews for The New York Times and radio essays for NPR and WBEZ, Chicago’s public radio station. Green, who has identified himself as a feminist, has been criticized for representing teenage girls and people of color without the same nuance he gives to the white teen boys in his novels. Still, he is often cited as a positive influence on teenagers and has received mostly positive reviews for his internet and radio outreach as well as his novels, which also include Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and Turtles All the Way Down.
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Historical Context of An Abundance of Katherines

Green published this book in 2006, about five years after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. In the wake of these attacks, the United States saw an uptick in Islamophobia, or irrational fear or hatred of Muslim people and culture, because the attacks were carried out by a radical Islamic terrorist group. Green, who learned a bit about Islam during college and as a student chaplain briefly after college, has stated that he wanted to write Hassan as a Muslim character who was not fully defined by his religion but rather displayed the traits of a well-rounded character who also happened to be Muslim. It is also important to note that the early 2000s, when Green wrote An Abundance of Katherines, saw increasing internationalization and corporatization of businesses, especially with the rise in internet shopping. This shift made it more difficult for local businesses to thrive, which is why the textile factory in Gutshot, Tennessee, runs into financial problems. The novel explores some of the real-world ramifications for people in rural communities whose economies rely on the market for the goods they produce. The novel was published in 2006, but its semi-political treatment of the conflict between big business and the average citizen anticipates the United States Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 ruling known as “Citizens United,” which expanded the rights of corporations and stated that massive corporations are allowed to fund election campaigns with donations that private citizens cannot hope to equal.

Other Books Related to An Abundance of Katherines

On his author website, Green cites David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest as one of his inspirations for his writing style in An Abundance of Katherines, which involves a great deal of footnotes. He says that footnotes are where an author’s voice shines through, and notes that in Infinite Jest, Wallace’s voice is so present that the narrative is sometimes muddied in a way that reflects Colin’s inability to tell a clear, concise story. The coming-of-age rebellion at the heart of An Abundance of Katherines also echoes J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, although Green is conscious of the way in which Colin, as an incredibly smart teenager, also recalls the children in another J.D. Salinger work, the Glass family series. This series deals with a family of seven child prodigies.
Key Facts about An Abundance of Katherines
  • Full Title: An Abundance of Katherines
  • When Written: 2003-2006
  • Where Written: New York City
  • When Published: 2006
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Novel, Young Adult Fiction
  • Setting: Chicago and Gutshot, Tennessee
  • Climax: At the end of the hunting trip, Colin and Hassan find TOC cheating on Lindsey with Katrina. The incident precipitates a big fight in which Colin, Hassan, Lindsey, SOCT, and JATT join forces against TOC, and Colin realizes that the obelisk dedicated to the Archduke Franz Ferdinand is a fake.
  • Antagonist: Colin Singleton
  • Point of View: Third person

Extra Credit for An Abundance of Katherines

Internet Activism. John Green and his brother Hank have a base of internet fans who call themselves “nerdfighters,” and who pursue activist projects to decrease what the two brothers refer to as “worldsuck.” In this capacity, Green is also affiliated with the activist organization called the Harry Potter Alliance, which harnesses fan energy to complete projects like collecting book donations for underserved communities and getting Warner Brothers to use Fair Trade chocolate for all its Harry Potter-related chocolate products.

Punny Origins. Green says that he chose the name Colin because the character is constantly “callin’” his ex-girlfriends.