Remember Box (Sprinkle)

Discussion Questions
We have two sets of questions for this work: the first kindly submitted by the Joaquin (Texas) Book Club, and the second from LitLovers.

1. On some sites, Patricia Sprinkle is categorized as a Christian writer. Do you think that this is a “Christian” book?

2. Does using an adult narrator flashing back to her tweens make the story unfold better? Would you say this is a young adult novel or an adult one?

3. Did the hymn titles and/or introductory remarks before each part increase your understanding of the story?

4. At the end, Carley comments that “each of us is a blend of good and evil.” Is that true of all the characters in this book? For instance, can you think of something good about Miz Baines, Pauline, or Carley’s father?

5. Among the characters Carley considers “good” are Uncle Stephen, Aunt Hannah, Big Mama, Jay, and Rilla. Are they too good, or do they also have believable faults?

6. At the end, grown-up Abby asks, “You didn’t make me talk funny, did you?” How did you feel about Abby’s speech patterns—distracting, cute, annoying, whatever?

7. There are big topics explored in this book—racism, communism, mistreatment of workers, gender roles, and alcoholism, for example. Are these topics dealt with even-handedly, or does the reader see mostly a one-sided view? (If one-sided, is it the “correct” view?)

8. Is Uncle Stephen a good preacher/pastor? Do Kate and the children make his job easier or harder? How would you feel as his parishioner?

9. Both Jay and Stephen are accused and tried with little evidence. Would this have happened in 1950s legal and/or church system (or today)? In both cases, Carley is instrumental in uncovering the truth: Again, is this believable (including the adults’ acceptance of the children’s testimony)?

10. Do you agree with the way forgiveness is presented in this book? What characters need to be forgiven, and in what situations?

11. Did you notice any parts of this book that were particularly descriptive?

(The above questions are courtesy of Joaquin Book Club—thanks for the generosity!)

1. In what way do Big Mama's views differ from Uncle Stephen's on the social questions of the day? How different is each of their understanding of the Bible and its message?

2. How is the minister's family first received in Job's Corner, and what percipitates the community's changing attitudes toward them? (You might also talk about the significance of the town's name.)

3. Discuss the novel's characters. Which ones do you find most sympathetic or admirable. Which ones do you identify with the least?

4. Talk about Aunt Kate and how she deals with the controversy surrounding her husband?

5. How would you describe the townspeople of Job's Corner? Are they typical, or atypical, of southerners back in the mid-20th century? Has Sprinkle depicted them adequately, fairly, or realistically? Have attitudes and beliefs changed over the past 50 or 60 years?

6. Talk about how the story's two main issues, race and communism, have changed. Historically, what national and international events led to the changes? Talk, too, about the labor movement, the influence of Billy Graham, and the threat of polio.

7. The Remember Box can be seen as a coming-of-age story. Carley is on the cusp of adolescence when she goes to live with her aunt and uncle. How does she mature—what does she come to understand about herself and the adult world—during the course of the novel?

8. Talk about the contents of the Remember Box. Why does Uncle Stephen's purpose in sending it to Carley? How does she feel upon receiving it? She refers to it as Pandora's Box—what does she mean by that?

9. Going through the box resurrects an ugly past for Carley. In your own life is it important to revisit a painful past, or is it sometimes best to let the past alone and move on?

10. This novel has been compared to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. If you've read that work (or seen the film with Gregory Peck), how similar, or dissimilar, are these two works?

(The above questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use either set of questions, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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