1. In picking up this book for the first time, with its very poignant title and a serious photo of the author on the cover, what do you expect from it? Talk about your initial impressions, what you had heard about the book, or other things you knew about the novel prior to starting the first chapter.
2. The first chapter paints a vivid portrait of the friendship between Singer and Antonapoulos. How do you feel about each of these characters from the beginning? How do the men seem similar, other than the fact they are both deaf-mutes? What do you feel the friendship brings Singer in particular?
3. In meeting Biff Brannon in chapter two, what can you tell immediately about his relationship with his wife? Describe what interests you about him as a character and about the New York Café as a place.
4. Analyze the things Jake Blount says in the first part of the book. What do we know about him from his dialogue with others? What is your initial impression of him?
5. In chapter three, the details of Mick's life are laid out very carefully. How do you interpret her interest in Singer? Do you think his quiet nature relates to Mick's interest in music or her need for a place to listen to it in her own head?
6. What can you tell about the environment of the Kelly household from the initial information you are given by the author?
7. Choose five adjectives to describe Doctor Benedict Mady Copeland. How does he appear to be an outsider in his own community? What do you think about his decision to return to the South after having been educated as a doctor in the North?
8. Each of the characters you meet in the first part of the novel seems estranged from the community in some way. Describe in what ways their estrangements are similar, and also in what ways they differ.
9. Which character do you like the most or feel the closest to? Who does the narrator seem partial to, if anyone?
10. Discuss the narration. What is consistent about the voice throughout this first part of the novel? How are the details about places and people described, and what do you like or dislike about the descriptions? How does the point of view contribute to the overall feeling of the novel?