1. Talk about the party at the Kelly house at the beginning of Part Two. How is Mick's behavior typical of an adolescent girl and how is it different? What is unique about Mick?

2. Think about Mick's love of music. How is music used throughout the book—to evoke a mood, to punctuate certain paragraphs, or to convey an idea or underlying theme?

3. Discuss Biff's views of Alice and how they are different from his views of her sister Lucile. Also, think about how Biff handles his wife's illness. How is the breakdown of their marriage reminiscent of Alice's sickness?

4. Talk about the many ways religion is used throughout the text.

5. Discuss Doctor Copeland's strange relationship with the town. What do you understand about his views of society? As a symbol of the African-American race, what statement do you feel the author is trying to make about race relations in the South?

6. What do you think about Portia as a character? How do you feel about the way she handles her relationship with her father? Do you feel she's a strong woman, and if so, why?

7. Put together a list of descriptors of the Georgia town that serves as a backdrop for the novel. Talk about what you know about the town from the people who live there.

8. What do you think about Singer's devotion to his friendship with Antonapoulos?

9. Singer comes to represent God—or a deified presence—for each of the other characters in the book: "each man described the mute as he wished him to be." (p. 223) Why?

10. Toward the end of Part Two, many of the situations the main characters find themselves in are dire. Nothing seems to be going well. Do you feel the author is writing an optimistic or pessimistic story at this point? If you had to guess at some resolution, what would it be?


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