1. Deborah is often described as unattractive. What is the source of her unattractiveness? Examine how her reaction to the rape and the townspeople's reaction could explain this description.
2. Discuss whether Florence will use Deborah's letter to expose Gabriel's past. What would be possible outcomes or either scenario? What, if any, changes would occur in the lives of the characters?
3. What might Elizabeth's life have been like if her aunt had not taken her from her father or if Richard had not committed suicide?
4. Discuss the similarities and differences between Roy and Gabriel or between Roy and Royal.
5. What effect, if any, did the affair with Ester and the birth of Royal have on the life of Gabriel.
6. The novel ends without much resolution regarding the characters' dilemmas, leaving the door open for speculation on what will — or can — happen. Write what you believe will happen in the next chapter of the characters' lives. Base your thoughts on the personalities of the characters and what they are likely — or unlikely — to do.
7. Many different themes run through the novel. What do you see as the most important aspect of the book? Is it a coming of age story? Is it about religion, racism, families, or something else? Pull evidence from the book to substantiate your opinion.