As you finish reading The Corrrections, consider these topics to discuss with your reading group.
  1. Why is Denise drawn to both Robin and Brian? How attractive are they as characters? How does Denise's attraction to Robin initially manifest itself? Why is she unable to make a life with Robin?
  2. What is revealed about the dynamics of the young Lambert family during the liver dinner? When Al finds Chip asleep at the dinner table, what upsets him more: concern for his son or disgust with Enid? Do we know the source of Enid's neglect? "There was something almost tasty and almost sexy in letting the annoying boy be punished by her husband" [p. 263]. To what extent are the book's children shaped by their upbringing, and to what extent is their character predetermined?
  3. What do Chip's relationships with women reveal about his character? How does his attitude toward women change over the course of the novel? Considering the details of his earlier relationships, does it seem probable that his marriage to Alison Schulman will survive? How did his time in Lithuania prepare Chip to deal with Alfred's decline and death?
  4. Why does Denise tell Chip not to pay back the money she has lent him? What does the use of the word "forgive" suggest in Denise's plea to her brother?
  5. How would you describe Franzen's narrative style? How deeply does he sympathize with his characters? Does the tone of the novel change? Examine the evolution of Enid's character, from housewife to the liberated woman at the end of the novel who feels that "nothing could kill her hope now" [p. 568]. Is there evidence that her liberation is not entirely a good thing?
  6. Is Alfred's death the key to Enid's happiness? How does the quality of her life change once Al is hospitalized? What reaction do his children have to his death? Are we meant to believe that their father's death is the catalyst for their "corrections"? For how much of the unhappiness in the Lambert household was Al responsible?
  7. Which character has undergone the most fundamental change? Is the change positive or negative? Have any of the characters evolved enough for their "corrections" to endure? Are these corrections deliberate, or are they the result of outside occurrences that force the characters to change?
  8. How does America's long-standing fascination with the notion of progress manifest itself in the story of each character? How does the novel, in its entirety, stand in relation to the American ideas of self-improvement as well as social and technological progress?


Next Story