Donna HemansQuestions and Topics For Discussion
1. The lines between mother and child are often blurred in this story, as many of those who give birth are mere children themselves. Look at the ways that the women of Standfast mother each other, the town, and their loved ones. In what ways does this communal sense of mothering shape, alter and create the town? Are there negative aspects to this type of child rearing?
2. Discuss the setting in this novel. How does the hot, dry stagnant environment work with the plot? The author peppers her prose with adjectives, many of which are so visceral that they border on disturbing. In what ways does this exacerbate the high level of emotional intensity of this novel?
3. Men have a somewhat elusive role in this novel. They are often presented as peripheral to central scenes and, as characters, react more than act, aid more than lead, and watch more than participate. Why does this seem to be the case? Is it simply because the story is told through the point of view of a family of women that men are relegated to the sidelines? Do you see male roles shifting as the novel progresses?
4. On page 176, during the bridge-burning scene, the narrator states, “The young women shattered the symbol that had kept the elder folks mired in the past and waiting for their government to hand out a future. The young women took charge.” Why does the author call attention to the