Reading Group Guide The Used World
By Haven Kimmel Discussion Points
1. The preface briefly introduces the three main characters and their triangular connection. What do Hazel, Claudia, and Rebekah have in common? In what ways are they different?
2. On page 8, Amos Townsend tells Claudia, "I see people all the time who say they are lonely but it's a code word for something else." Do you think this is true in Claudia's case? Why or why not? What is loneliness a code word for in the cases of Hazel and Rebekah?
3. Hazel describes vague memories of a world of women, the men all gone off to war. Are the women in this novel different with one another than they are in the presence of men?
4. What is the significance of the flashback to 1950 on page 15, where Hazel has her nighttime encounter with the owl? Where else does this symbol appear in the novel?
5. How do physical descriptions and personality quirks help define the characters in The Used World
? Identify these descriptions and explain what they reveal about each character.
6. The women in this novel all struggle with motherhood, either through their relationships to their actual mothers or through becoming mothers themselves. Describe the ways in which motherhood poses challenges and otherwise changes these characters.
7. Claudia laments the demise of the Old Mother -- exemplified by her mother, Ludie -- and the rise of the New Mother, represented by h