Land of Painted Caves (Auel) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. How did you find Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children ® Series? How long have you been reading the series? Have you shared the experience of reading these books with other people in your life?

2. The author’s research is acclaimed by experts, and she takes great pains to get the details correct. What does this authenticity contribute to The Land of Painted Caves? Do you feel that you have learned facts and aspects about ancient cultures you might not have otherwise known?

3. If you could ask Jean Auel anything, what would you ask her? If you have read the entire six-novel series, what questions do you feel were answered in this book? What questions do you still have?

4. How has Ayla’s tendency to think as a medicine woman shaped who she has become? What does her devotion to helping others who are hurt or ill say about her, and how does it affect how she is perceived in her home cave and along her travels?

5. The Sacred Cave is based on real caves and drawings. What does the ancient art tell us about the people who made it? What is the value of these caves to us today? In the novel, some who visit the caves are moved to participate; what do you think causes that impulse?

6. Ayla is a constant source of change and innovation for which she is both rewarded and punished. What difficulties does she face because of her tendency to challenge the status quo? What is the difference between Ayla, a woman, initiating change, versus a man introducing it? Do you think people today adapt differently to change?

7. When Balderan had to be punished for his crimes, did you agree with the decision of the Zelandonia (see chapter 25)? Ayla’s feelings about being directly involved are mixed, but the intended punishment was not carried out; what did you think about the mob’s reaction? Has justice evolved?

8. Sex is an important part of social interaction in The Land of Painted Caves and the earlier books in Auel’s Earth’s Children® series. How are our society’s thoughts about sex different or the same as the Zelandonii’s?

9. How does the tension between Ayla’s role as a wife and mother and her training to become one of the Zelandonia impact the events of the novel? Does this struggle resonate with you today? How? Why?

10. One of the themes in this book is jealousy. Jondalar confronts the most extreme jealousy of his life when Ayla turns to someone else, and Ayla experiences jealousy for the first time. What were some causes and results of jealousy between the characters in this novel? Why do the Zelandonii condemn jealousy and work so hard to eradicate it?

11. Ayla has had to deal with immense losses in her life, and a great sacrifice is required during her calling. What did you feel about her loss? What is the connection between losing her baby and learning the end of the Mother’s song?

12. What makes Ayla risk concocting the root brew she learned to make in The Clan of the Cave Bear again? What did she discover by using the roots to travel to the spirit world? Do you think her decision was inevitable?

13. How has Ayla’s and Jondalar’s relationship changed since they first met? How has it stayed the same? Does this reflect the rhythm of a modern relationship? If so, how, and if not, why? What remains their greatest challenge as a couple?

14. What are some of the implications of Ayla’s revelation that men and women are equally involved in creating children (distinct from the Neanderthal society’s belief that the individual’s totems vie for dominance and the Cro-Magnon society’s belief that the Mother chooses the man’s spirit to mix with the woman’s spirit when She blesses a woman)?

15. At the end of The Land of Painted Caves author Jean M. Auel has illuminated many aspects of her characters’ stories, begun thirty years ago in The Clan of the Cave Bear. What most surprised you? What most satisfied your? And do dedicated readers still have any questions?

16. Jean M. Auel has stated that when she ends this series, she will miss Ayla's character who she claims to know better than some of her friends. Other than Ayla, which character featured in The Land of Painted Caves will you miss most, or which character remains most clearly etched in your mind?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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