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Book Club Wed Mar 11 2009

The Book of Ralph Discussion Questions

Below are the questions we'll use to discuss John McNally's The Book of Ralph. Feel free to post answers in the comments section or join us on Monday, March 16 to discuss it in person at the Book Cellar. I look forward to hearing all of your thoughts then!

  • Who is this story really about - Hank or Ralph? What effect is created by having Hank narrate the story and not Ralph? What might it be like if Ralph were the narrator?
  • Why does Hank continue to remain friends with Ralph? Why does Ralph continue to remain friends with Hank? Is either one of them a positive influence on the other?
  • How does Hank's family life contribute to his continuing friendship with Ralph? How does it shape his reactions to the events that occur in the story?
  • Was it Hank's mother who agreed to meet him over the CB radio? If so, what would be her purpose in having him watch her get on a bus and ride away? What effect does this have on Hank?
  • How would you describe this story? Is it a comedy? A tragedy? A coming-of-age story?
  • How do you perceive the women in the story? What roles do Hank's mother, sister, wife, and girlfriend Janet play?
  • What effect does the author's decision to break up the chronology of the story have? Does the flashback to Hank and Ralph in fifth grade and the flash forward to them as adults add anything to the story? Would it have been complete if we had ended with the boys in the police station knowing their friendship had ended?
  • Is the flash forward believable? Is Hank's reunion with Ralph and joining his business venture in keeping with his character?
  • Do you trust Hank as a narrator? Do you feel he is keeping anything from us? How do you feel about the story tells involving his supposed battering of a squirrel?
  • Is the ending satisfying? Do the characters end up where you thought they would? Did you expect more from the story or did you find that it ended on a conclusive note?

 
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Ron Reason / March 11, 2009 3:50 PM

If anyone is interested in donating your copy of "Book of Ralph" (or any future titles on the club schedule) for use by a book club we're sponsoring in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, or learning of other ways to help our book club and its fledgling library (1,000 books and growing!), visit this link to learn more:
http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/grp/1070601706.html

Please pass this on to anyone you know with a Chicago area book club. The Ark thrift store, Broadway United Methodist Church, and area schools have helped launch this library, and we could use your help too. Many blessings to readers everywhere!

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Book Club is the literary section of Gapers Block, covering Chicago's authors, poets and literary events. More...

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