READING GROUP GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1) Hemingway completed just one draft of True at First Light,
and after his death it remained under lock and key for decades. Did these circumstances affect the way you read the book? How should True at First Light
be judged within Hemingway's complete canon of work? If he had finished writing and editing book himself, in what ways might it have been different?
2) Perhaps the most controversial aspect of True at First Light
is Hemingway's purported "marriage" to Debba. Do you believe that this relationship is truthfully rendered, or one of the "fictionalized" elements of this memoir? Could Debba be an amalgamation of a few different women? A metaphor for Hemingway's love of Africa itself?
3) On the surface, Hemingway perpetuates the notion that he and Mary are very happy. They frequently take great pains to reassure one another that they are content. Are they trying to convince themselves they are still in love? If so, why? Is their bickering a sign that they are unhappy, or is this just the way they communicate? Discuss his assertion that "love is a terrible thing...[and] fidelity does not exist nor ever is implied except at the first marriage" (282).
4) Hemingway often mocks the white man's presence in Africa, noting how many are willing to pay inflated prices for an authentic African hunt, and even joking that a Hilton should be built for the comfort of such people. Doe