Italian Teacher (Rachman) - 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 ITALIAN TEACHER … then take off on your own:

1. What was it like to grow up under the shadow of Bear Bavinsky? What was the damage imposed on his son, Pinch? How has Pinch emerge from his childhood and young adult years: what scars has he been nursing all these years? In other words, how would you describe Pinch? Do you find yourself sympathetic toward him … or perhaps a little frustrated by him?

2. What do you make of Bear—the father of 17 children who has sprinkled the world with his abandoned spouses and ashes of burned paintings? Of all the things he says and/or does to Pinch, which do you find the most egregious, the most damaging?

3. What role does Pinch's mother Natalie play in the family dynamics and throughout Pinch's life? What happens to her life as an artist? How would you describe Pinch's relationship with her?

4. Nattty tells Pinch at one point that "you need to be selfish as an artist—that's why it's so much harder for a woman." What do you make of her statement?

5. Follow-up to Question 4: in the end, who in the family proves to be the strongest?

6. Bear tells Pinch, "Nobody sees themselves." Cynical? Perceptive? What does he mean?

7. Of all of Bear's children, most of whom keep their distance from their father, Pinch is the one who works to maintain a relationship. Why? Over the years, how does the balance of power shift between father and son? Do you have sympathy for Bear at some point...at any point...or at no point?

8. Were you surprised, pleased, disappointed at the novel's ending? How has Pinch changed by the end … has he grown?

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

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