1. Define community. Compare and contrast each community in which Claire lives. How is she a mystery, or a foreigner, in all three communities?
2. Discuss how the rituals in the seaside community in “Book Two: Between." Define the culture of the people. How does Claire’s previous life resemble a science lab? What is the connection between science, culture, and the human experience? How does Jonas understand the human experience? Explain how Claire’s “Between” years help her make the transition to “Beyond."
3. Claire is inexperienced with feelings. Why is she soconfused when she begins to have a “yearning” for herproduct? How does this feeling frighten her? Discuss how the emotion of love overtakes the emotion offear. Explain how Claire’s “yearning” sets her free.
4. Discuss Claire’s reaction when she learns that she is a failure as a Birthmother. Debate whether she thinks she has failed herself or her community. Discuss whether her product’s failure to thrive contributes to additional feelings of failure. How does her failure as a Birthmother cause her shame in the seaside community? Why is she considered “stained”? How does her failure as a “vessel” allow her to become amother?
5. Secrets and lying are prohibited in the community. How do Claire’s secret feelings cause her great pain? Debate whether Claire is guilty of lying or simply creating excuses to wander from the Fish Hatchery to the Nurturing Center. The man who is caring for Thirty-six is also harboring a secret. What would happen if the Chief Elder of the community discovered that he had named the product, now a new child? What is symbolic about the new child’s name?
6. What does the nurturer see in Thirty-six that others can’t see? Explain Gabe’s gift. Jonas gave Gabe life by taking him to Elsewhere. Debate the possibility that Jonas saw something “special” in the infant Gabe. What does he give him at the end of Son?
7. In “Book One: Before,” Claire says that she is lonely, though she really doesn’t understand the meaning of the word. How does she confront her feelings of loneliness as she makes her journey to “Between” and“Beyond”? Which other characters suffer from a similar loneliness? Debate whether Gabe is lonely or simply needs to understand his history.
8. In “Book Two: Between,” Alys realizes that Claire is deeply wounded. How does she help Claire come to terms with “Before”? Why does Claire decide to tell Bryn her story? How does Claire know that Lame Einar won’t be scornful of her past?
9. Discuss what Lame Einar means when he tells Claire, “It be better, I think, to climb out in search of something, instead of hating what you’re leaving.” (p.209) How is love stronger than hate? Discuss how Alys understands a mother’s love, even though she is not a mother herself.
10. Explain the statement, “Fear dims when you learnthings.” (p. 162) Debate whether Claire’s fear intenseifies or lessens as she continues her plight to and her son. What does she learn in “Book Two: Between” that dims her fears? Which characters in the seaside village help her gain knowledge?
11. Power may corrupt, but it can heal. How does Trademaster use his power to corrupt? Jonas needs for Gabe to understand the difference between a unique power and a gift. Why does Jonas feel that having a gift is burdensome? Discuss why Gabe is uncomfortable with his special gift. He uses his gift of veering to destroy evil. Debate whether he will ever use his gift again.
(Questions issued by publisher.)
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