The Sun Does Shine Reading Guide
1) Before being wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death, Anthony Ray Hinton was in trouble with the law for stealing a car. Does this in any way make you less sympathetic to his plight?
2) Discuss the friendship of Ray and Lester. Can you imagine a friend who would visit you every visiting day for 30 years? What does their relationship teach us about friendship?
3) What did you think of the friendship of Ray and fellow inmate Henry Hays, who was raised in a family of virulent racists? What does this friendship teach us about love and hate?
4) Do you think the death penalty system is broken? How would you like to see it changed?
5) The State of Alabama has not apologized or compensated Ray Hinton for his wrongful imprisonment. Do you think he should be paid? Some say he shouldn't be paid because he was never proven innocent. What do you say to this argument?
6) Ray and Bryan Stevenson, his lawyer, both say that nobody is defined by the worst thing they have ever done. Do you agree? Does this help you have more compassion for those incarcerated or on death row?
7) What was the turning point for Ray in how he would survive in prison? What does this teach you?
8) What personal qualities help Ray not only to survive prison, but actually make a positive impact around him?
9) How would you like to see our prison system reformed? What programs would be beneficial to our society, and why?
10) Do you think Ray Hinton should have forgiven those who wronged him? If you were greatly wronged, could you forgive? Do you believe there are situations in which forgiveness is not the right solution?
11) Ray spent his first three years on Death Row without speaking. When is silence the loudest form of expression? Have you found moments in your own life when silence was more powerful than speech?
12) Ray states that "spending your days waiting to die is no way to live." What are some ways that you practice living, not merely existing? Where do you draw the line between the two?
13) What is the role of faith in The Sun Does Shine? Does Ray Hinton's questioning of his own faith strengthen or diminish it? What if Ray Hinton had not believed in God at all: Do you think that would have affected his ability to sustain himself?
14) Along with his friend Lester, Ray Hinton's mother was his most faithful visitor and supporter. If you were accused of a terrible crime, would you expect support from your family and best friend? If someone you loved were accused, would you offer that support?
15) Ray Hinton founded a book club on death row, reading books by James Baldwin, Maya Angelou and others. If you were confined with a group of people, whether incarcerated or in another circumstance, what books would you want to read for a book club?
16) Some books about the worst of life—Elie Wiesel's Night, Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Jeannette Walls' The Glass Castle—endure as inspirational classics. Why do people find hope in such stories? Does The Sun Does Shine make you feel angry or hopeful?
More about Oprah's Book Club
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