The book contains a more complete set of questions for
book-club discussion. SPOILER ALERT: Please be aware
that the following questions contain spoilers.
1/ Do you think Eliza was justified in leaving John and
taking his canoe to do it? Did your opinion about that
change over the course of the book?
2/ Do you think Obadiah treated Eliza well or poorly? Did
your opinion about that change over the course of the book?
3/ In Chapter Four, Eliza thinks: I know where we’re
headed—I think I’ve known ever since I was in Obadiah’s
stateroom and told him I’d take his help. I don’t know how
to think about it except I do need help and far as I can
figure I’ve got only one thing to give in return and that’s
as clear to Obadiah as it is to me. Do you understand why
she would think that way? Do you agree with her?
4/ What do you think of Eliza’s decision to become a
5/ As Eliza embarks on life as a prostitute, she thinks
this: Perhaps I can find a way to close some part of
myself off, as if it is some other woman doing what I must
and I myself, the true part of me, is watching only. I don’t
want to be coldhearted and unfeeling—then it is my mother I
become—but I must pick and choose my times to feel. I must
remember my aim: to have my own money, to have the money to
be free. Do you think it is possible for a woman to do
6/ What do you think about Eliza’s “burning desire” to pile
7/ Do you think Eliza takes enough, too little, or too much
responsibility for her sister Sarah’s behavior?
8/ When Charity sees the portrait of Eliza, she remarks:
“And to think, Eliza. You are the one who doesn’t believe in
love.” Do you think Charity is correct, that Eliza doesn’t
believe in love?
9/ Why do you think Eliza was so generous to the
10/ Are you surprised that thousands of people filled the
streets to pay their respects to Eliza after her death,
given that she was a prostitute and madam?
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