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Sacrifice of Tamar (Ragen) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. The social code of the ultra Orthodox world serves not only as the background for The Sacrifice of Tamar, but as one of its most controversial elements. How would you define that code, and in what way is it a catalyst for the behavior of the characters?

2. In discussing this book, the author said portraying Tamar sympathetically was extremely challenging. In what way does Tamar’s behavior evoke antagonism in the reader? What events and information does the author supply that help evince sympathy for her decision and her plight?

3. Describe Josh. What do you think his reaction would have been had Tamar told him the truth immediately?

4. Tamar hides the truth. How would the community have reacted had Tamar let the truth about the rape be known? Her family? Was Tamar’s sacrifice in vain?

5. Tamar’s cousin Zissel appears only briefly in the story. Why is Zissel important to the story?

6. At the beginning of the book, Tamar has the simplistic belief that “God treated you the way you treated others.” What happens to this belief by the end of the book? Is it still intact? Has it changed? In what ways?

7. What, exactly, is the sacrifice Tamar makes? Or is it Tamar herself who is sacrificed? What does she gain from her behavior, and what does she lose?

8. The Sacrifice of Tamar has an important racial element. Is Tamar a racist? How does the book portray racism?

9. In Tamar, Jenny, and Hadassah, the book presents three models of religious adherence. What are they? How would you describe the positive and negative role religion plays in each of their lives?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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