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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Book Club Sun Nov 09 2008

Sin in the Second City Discussion Questions

Here are some sample questions for our November 10 book club meeting:

1. Who are the heroes and who are the villains in this story?

2. Do you empathize with Minna and Ada? With the reformers? With the prostitutes?

3. Why do you think the Everleigh sisters got into the business they did?

4. What kinds of double standards existed regarding the sexuality of men and women during this time period?

5. Did this book change your understanding of women's lives at the beginning of the twentieth century? How do their lives/roles/opportunities compare to women's lives today?

6. In what ways has our culture changed since the events of the book, and how is it the same?

7. How would you describe Karen Abbott's attitudes towards her subjects?

8. Sin in the Second City is best described as a work of creative nonfiction, blending fact with creative flourishes to imagine certain scenes. Does this style work for this book?

9. Early twentieth century Chicago is vividly brought to life in Sin in the Second City. Could the events of this book have happened anyplace else?

10. What do you think is the most important thing to know about the social world the Everleigh sisters lived in?

11. Abbott calls Charles Washburn's biography of the Everleigh sisters, Come into My Parlor, "slightly flawed," yet she heavily relies on it as a source. Does this affect your reading of the book?

12. What is the purpose of the book? Why do think Abbott chose to write about this subject? What are the central problems she raises in the book regarding prostitution, white slavery and reform?

13. What did you find most surprising about the book?

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