Sunday, July 3, 2011

Discussion Questions for CL CL

Hi All,

I thought that since the discussion has super dwindled, I'd post some book club discussions questions to get the conversation going. My paperback copy has some good questions at the back that I'm putting below:

1. When Larry is shot at the beginning of the novel, he is sympathetic to his attacker: "Larry felt forgiveness for him because all monsters were misunderstood." Does Larry consider himself to be a monster? Why isn't he bitter? Could you be as charitable in his position? Do you think he feels the same way at the end of the novel?

2. Talk about both boys' relationships to their mothers. How did their mother's shape them? Were they good sons? What kind of people were their mothers? Why does Silas go see Larry's mother in the nursing home?

3. Silas left southern Mississippi, then returned. Larry never left. Why did they make the decisions they did? What was it about their small town that drew and kept them there? How does place shape the novel? Could this have happened in any small town?

4. At the novel's end, Tom Franklin writes, "The land had a way of covering the wrongs of people." What does he mean by this?

I'm about half way through the book, so I'm not quite ready to answer the questions yet (Yes, I know I've missed this month's deadline- sorry!), but I know that a lot of you are already finished, so start discussing!

Hope you're having wonderful long weekends :)


  1. Interesting questions ... I'll try to answer one that I think I have something to say for.

    1) Does Larry consider himself to be a monster? I think he feels that he must have done something wrong in that situation that led to Celia's disappearance. I think he harbors a guilt for not having thought through the whole situation, and letting this happen to her, when he was the last person who was left in charge of her. Why isn't he bitter? I think he's not bitter at this point bc he feels these are the cards he was dealt -- that it was an unfortunate turn of events & circumstances that led him to where he was -- he doesn't blame others for thinking what they think (since he was the last to see her) and bc of the slight guilt he holds, he has accepted being an outcast, etc. Do you think he feels the same at the end of the novel? No, because now it's not a matter of unfortunate circumstances out of one's controls -- but there was someone who could have come forth, and cleared up the story, and saved Larry's life from being abolished, as well as catching the perpetrator for the crime. Larry did all that he could have imagined to help Celia, and to let the cops know everything he knew -- to the extent that even 40 years later, he allows the cops to come check his home when there is a crime committed in a nearby area. But Silas not even doing his one part in this case, and a really big part it was, is (finally) infuriating him.

  2. I finished the book! I actually finished it a few hours after I posted these questions because I felt guilty about being a slacker :) After work today, I'll get to writing up some detailed thoughts.

    For now at least, I will say that while the discussion question asks about relationships to mothers, I wonder if relationship to father has a bigger role. We find out that both Larry and Silas have the same father but one had a father figure and the other didn't. There was the scene where Silas is jealous of the praise Larry gets for mowing the lawn (and Silas had actually done the mowing too) where he wonders what it would have been like if he had a father. I do not discount the role the mother figure had in each of their lives and the effect of said figure, but I don't think things were shaped solely by that.

  3. I agree with Ferah in that I think the relationships with the fathers are more important in shaping their personality. In general, from reading books that involve midwest-type father figures, it seems like the fathers really screw up their sons. The fathers are the disciplinarians, yet don't provide any sort of love to balance that discipline. If it were me, I think I'd resent that a lot.

    For the case of Larry, I don't think he ever fully resents it. I can't decide whether this makes him strong or weak. After having his father tell him he has no skill whatsoever in car mechanics, he continues to take over his father's business, instead of venturing out and doing something else. You could say that he saw no other options, but he did go out of his town for the military, so he must have seen the outside world at least a little bit.

    So I wonder, is he completely unaffected by his father's opinion of him (and his car mechanics skills) or does he continue as a car mechanic to spite his father? Or, more realistically, does he just pity himself and works as a car mechanic even though he knows (or thinks, bc of his father's influence) that he's awful at it?

    We'll be seeing some interesting father-son relationship issues in the next book too, so I thought I'd keep this discussion on that topic. Especially because recently, 'daddy issues' has been an interesting topic to me. (Not saying anything about me, of course. Lol!)