Reading Questions for Girl Trouble
7. Do you see mothers and fathers as having separate roles in these stories? How do you think they are differentiated? Felicia's mother's approach to Felicia's death in "Parts" versus Art's, for example, or in "Allegory of a Cave" when Ben says, "His father was, as fathers tend to be, another case."
8. In "Theory of Realty," what do you think might have happened if Ellen had given in to Ray's protests and hadn't left Ray's house during their sleepover?
9. For these stories, Jones has been praised for her ability to capture intangible feelings: sadness, loss, love. How do you think the physical markers in these stories—the dog in "Good Girl," the house in "Retrospective"—help to capture these feelings? How did they help with your understanding of the story's themes? What are some other memorable markers?
10. In "Retrospective," when Libby goes through the memorabilia from her marriage to Stephen, she looks back on "her old and better self." The theme of parts and selves is prevalent in these stories—how would you describe the different selves of some of the characters in the book: Jacob in "Good Girl," Theo in "Life Expectancy," Art in "Parts," Ben's father in "Allegory of a Cave," Ellen in "Theory of Realty"?
11. A higher power and/or a greater plan seems to be a consistent thread throughout these stories—Ben's eyesight, Theo's baby's "life expectancy," Libby mentioning "the hand" she's been dealt. Do you think that these stories suggest that there is a higher power at work? A "proof of God," so to speak? Which characters do you think have the agency to determine the course of their lives?
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