Golden House (Rushdie) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for The Golden House … then take off on your own:

1. Talk about Rene, the narrator of The Golden House, and compare him to Nick Carraway, narrator of The Great Gatsby. How are they similar in their observations of both the family "next door" and America as a country?

2. What prompts Rene to say, "I've come to believe in the total mutability of the self"? What is he referring to…or what does he mean? Do you agree?

3. How does The Golden House reflect the current socio-political environment in America? How accurate, or overblown, is Rushdie's portrait of the country?

4. In what way does the Golden family serve as symbols for the country's current identity crisis?

5. What is the tragedy in India that drove Nero and his sons to America and that continues to haunt them?

6. How would you describe Nero Golden?

7. Discuss the characters of each of the three sons, the place each occupies in New York society, and the secrets each harbors. In what way are all, including their father, pretending to be something they're not?

8. What do you think of Vasilisa? Does Nero "acquire" her (as a wife) or does she "acquire" him?

9. The joker. Any comments?

10. Consider this condemnation of America: a country "torn in half, its defining myth of city-on-a-hill exceptionalism lying trampled in the gutters of bigotry and racial and male supremacism, Americans’ masks ripped off to reveal the Joker faces beneath." Do you accept or reject that vision?

11. Rushdie poses big questions in The Golden Hill: can good and evil coexist in the same person; are people truly capable of change; and, as Rene contemplates, is there such thing as as the "supposed innate ability of the human mind to realize the basic principles of ethics and morals”? Where does the novel fall on those issues … and where do you?

12. Consider the final image of the swirling camera circling survivors. What does it suggest metaphorically? Why might the author have chosen that last image?

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

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