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Book Club Discussion Guide

for The Sorting Room

PART I

  • The novel opens in 1928 with the introduction of ten-year-old Eunice Ritter. Do you consider her unusual for a girl from that era? How would you compare Eunice with a youngster of today?
  • How do Eunice’s family dynamics and economic status affect her early life decisions?
  • How does Eunice fend for herself? What gives her the strength?
  • Who takes advantage of Eunice? How so? Does she take advantage of others?

PART II

  • What is the significance of Mother’s Day in this story?
  • How does Eunice resolve her conflicts with parenting as a mother herself?
  • How important is the librarian in Eunice’s planning?
  • Who seeks Eunice’s approval? Does she grant it?
  • Describe Marie’s marriage. How does that marriage affect Eunice?
  • How does Marie’s impression of Eunice change over time and why?
  • Describe Eunice’s relationship with Lete. How has Lete’s personality been formed by nurture versus nature?
  • How does Eunice and her family react after the revelations of her secret history? Why do you think that is?
  • It is left unstated how the two strangers are drawn to the cemetery burial scene. What might have led to their attendance?
  • Does Fran’s fear of repeating Eunice’s life come to pass? How are these two women similar and different?

OVERALL REFLECTIONS

  • Describe the relationship between Eunice and her legal husband. What constrains her options? What choices does she make concerning her marriage?
  • Does the story shed light on the social evolution in the US from the Great Depression to the sixties? What has changed in our society since the time period when the story ended? What has remained the same?
  • Who loves Eunice and why? Who does she love?
  • When does Eunice accept responsibility and when does she assign blame? Is she correct in these situations, in your estimation?
  • Describe the various roles played by mothers in the novel. Do such roles persist in today’s modern society?
  • What might have become of Uli? Do you believe that Eunice continued to provide for him?
  • What purposes are served by the story of the two wolves?
  • Would you consider Eunice a noble person? Lete? Joseph?
  • Why does the author use a child’s point of view to close the novel? Did you find this satisfactory?
  • What feelings did this book evoke in you?