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Feast of the Goat (Vargas Llosa) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for The Feast of the Goat:

1. By the end of the book, we learn why Urania Cabral left the Dominican Republic at the age of 14 (did you guess early on?). Yet the question remains: why does she return?

2.  Talk about Trujillo's methods of maintaining loyalty from his subordinates. Why have so many remained loyal? Why would they agree to subject their wives and daughters to his carnality?

3. Eventually seven of Trujillo's supporters are driven to oppose him. What is it that motivates the assassins to turn against their leader?

4. Antonio de la Maza, one member of the inner circle who turns assassin, believes that the dictator had in effect already killed him. What does he mean by that—and what has Trujillo taken from him.

5. Follow-up to Question 4: Varga Llosa exposes the fallout that the corruption of power has on the lives of ordinary people. Talk about the regime's many crimes—and the toll those crimes took on familial relationships, business hopes and private dreams.

6. Vargas Lloso presents an intimate portrait of Trujillo. How is the dictator depicted—what kind of man does the author show him to be? What does he value, or crave, most? What do you consider his most hideous offense?

7. Which of the three story lines contained in the book—Urania Cabral's, the assassins', or Trujillo's—do you find most engaging?

8. Talk about some of the other members of the regime, primarily Trujillo's son Ramfis, and the president Joaquin Balaguer.

9. What miscalculations were made after the assassination that enabled Balaguer to take control of the government? Talk about the aftermath of the assassination.

10. After the assassination, one character laments Trujillo's death, believing that he gave the country prosperity and security. Is there validity to that observation? Can dictatorships, even brutal ones, be preferable to chaos, anarchy, and poverty?

11. What role did the Catholic Church play in the Dominican Republic under the Trujillo regime?

12. Is this book's depiction of torture overly graphic? Why might Vargas Llosa have incorporated such intimate details of brutality?

13. Machismo is on display in this novel. What role does it play in public and private life? How does it perpetuate the power structure?

14. Vargas Llosa hopes that his novel will serve as a spur to the memory so that the atrocities of Trujillo's rule will never be forgotten. The act of remembering plays a pivotal role in the book's plot. How are various characters driven by their memories...or in Augustin Cabral's case by his lack of memory? How, for instance, is Urania affected by her memory?

15. What do you see as the outcome for Urania? Will she find inner peace and move on, or will her memory keep her psychic wounds from ever healing?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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