11/22/63 (King) - 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 11/22/63:

1. How would you describe Jake Epping—what kind of man is he? How does his ex-wife see him? How do others see him. How do you see him?

2. Why does Jake agree to go back in time—what are his reasons? At this stage in your own life, would you be willing to travel back to the past? What conditions would you require to do so?

2. Why does King inject the Derry, Maine, subplot into the main plot? Is the Dunning episode necessary to the story—or does it drag down the novel's pace?

3. Describe the world of 1958 in which 2011 Jake finds himself. What is appealing about the era...and what is unappealing?

4. Once in Texas, what does Jake, now George Amberson, come to learn about Lee Harvey Oswald? What kind of character is Oswald? When Oswald arrives on the scene, why doesn't Jake/George just take him out? Why does he delay?

5. Follow-up to Question 4: What makes Jake/George (and the author) conclude that Oswald acted alone? Do you think he did? Have you done any previous reading/research that suggests Oswald was not a lone gunman? (see LitLovers review of Conspiracy by Anthony Summers.)

6. Jake/George has come to believe that life is not random:

Coincidences happen, but I’ve come to believe they are actually quite rare. Something is at work, O.K.? Somewhere in the universe (or behind it), a great machine is ticking and turning its fabulous gears.

What does Jake/George mean? Do you believe in a "great machine," an over-arching fate, or God who oversees and intervenes in our lives. Do "things happen for a reason"? What are your thoughts?

7. What is the nature of time as presented in 11/22/63? Consider the following:

    • Time doesn't want to be changed: time is "obdurate." Why?
    • Harmonies crop up, similarities in names and events. Why?
    • The butterfly effect—what is it?
    • The Yellow Card Man—is he a sentinel?
    • Time is like a string; changing events tangles the strings.

8.  Follow-up to Question 7: What does the novel, ultimately, seem to suggest about the hiuman desire to alter the past?

9. Follow-up to Questions 7 & 8: How does the novel present the notion of history? Is history shaped by individuals whose actions, discoveries, and intentions alter the course of events? Or is history created by the interconnectedness of a multitude of events, generated by forces bigger than any single individual?

10. King has a talent for taking supernatural events and locating them in everyday, mundane settings. How does he do that in 11/22/63? Does he pull it off...or does he falter?

11. 14. Why does Sadie sense that there's something odd about Jake/George? What are some of the ways that George's knowledge of the future betray him? Why does he withhold the truth from Sadie for so long? How would you react if someone told you he/she came from the future?

12. How would you classify this book? Historical fiction? Science fiction? Alternate history? Romance? Thriller? Realism? Is it suspenseful—did you find yourself rushing to turn the page? Were you expecting George to succeed—or fail—in his mission?

13. SPOILER ALERT: Talk about Jake/George's decision to return to 2011. Why does he make the choice he does? Do you wish he had chosen differently?

14. SPOILER ALERT: Talk about the dystopian world Jake returns to in 2011. What were the series of events that led up to the conditions he finds?

15. If you've read other Stephen King books, or seen the movies, how does this book compare with his others? Has he jumped his usual genre...or expanded it? Does that fact that King's normal genre is fantasy-horror make him especially equipped as an author to write a book like 11/22/63?

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

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