Reading Group Discussion Questions continued...
- Long before Eli's confession to Jo, Eli and Jo meet for coffee and Jo makes a similar comment about her own guild about having treated her first husband so poorly, and how her work has helped to ease her conscience: " It made me feel I'd earned my way back to a normal life." Is this legitimate than Eli's argument? Do you feel that either of them ever really has to face the consequences of their mistakes? Discuss the differences- and the similarities - between the ways in which the two have lives their lives.
- After Jo's description of her second meeting with Daniel, she says, "We were married six weeks later, and I would say we have lived happily, if not ever after, at least enough of the time since. There are always compromises, of course, but they are at the heart of what it means to be married. They are, occasionally, everything." What does she mean by this? What kinds of compromises have she and Daniel made for each other? Discuss this in relation to this end of this novel. Look in particular at the scene where Daniel waits in the shadows for Jo to depart ("He's seen me in the car, and he's stopped there, waiting. He doesn't realize I've seen him. He doesn't want me to see him."), and the scene with Daniel and Jo at the airport ("I made myself register consciously the expression that has passed for a moment over his face as he moved forward to hold me: a sadness, a visible regret.")
- When her children were young, Jo used to tell them bedtime stories about a character named Miraculotta. One night Cassie said to Jo, " I know who Miraculotta really is, Mom... she's you." Later, as an angry, disaffected fourteen-year-old, Cass's awe for her mother has changed to contempt: "You're so limited," Jo recalls Cass telling her, and in response, Jo thinks, "Well yes, of course I am." What does Jo mean by this? Is she referring to herself specifically, or to all parents? What do you feel about Jo as a mother?
- "Deliberately, playfully, I fed fantasies about Eli. I allowed them to become sexual, I gave them specific flesh. I imagined us in sundering, tearing passions in hotel rooms in Boston, in nondescript motels or inns in towns twenty or fifty miles away... It was all right to imagine this, I said to myself... as long as I understood it wasn't going to happen." Do fantasies have a morality? Is it all right to imagine, as long as we don't follow through? Are thoughts, in and of themselves, dangerous? Immoral?
Published on August 26, 2008