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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 Wed Jan 06 2010

The Corrections Discussion Questions

I hope all of you have had a great time reading Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections and are as excited to discuss it next week as I am. Below are some questions we'll use to get the discussion going. Post your thoughts in the comments or join us on Monday, January 11, at the Book Cellar to discuss it in person. New members are always welcome to join us.

• If you had to describe this book to another person, what would you say it is about?

• What is the significance of the author's decision to name the Lamberts' hometown St. Jude? What is this saying about the family? How are the characters shaped by the fact that they keep being pulled back to this town?

• What kind of mother is Enid ? How accurately do her beliefs about her children mirror their realities? Why is this last Christmas in St. Jude so important to her?

• What is the marriage between Enid and Alfred like? How does this affect their children's abilities to have meaningful relationships? Would you say any of them, Enid and Alfred included, have been able to have successful relationships?

• How does Enid 's life change once Alfred is hospitalized at the end of the book? Was getting rid of Alfred the key to her happiness? How does the hospitalization affect each of the children, Chip in particular?

• Is there a hero or a villain in this story? Were you able to sympathize with any of the characters or did you find them all unlikable? Do any of them evolve or change throughout the story's timeline?

• Who is the narrator of this story? Is there only one or more than one? Do you trust that the story you're presented with is accurate? For example, think about the fight between Gary and Caroline regarding her hurt back - whose version of the story do you think you're supposed believe and whose version of the story do you actually believe? Can you think of any other instances where you're unsure of the narrator's trustworthiness?

• What does the title "The Corrections" mean? What are these "corrections" and what are they correcting? How does this idea play out for each character? What are their failures and how are they corrected?

• What do you believe the author was trying to say about the generic American family? Is there any truth to this story?

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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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