Wife's Tale (Lansens)

Discussion Questions
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Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for The Wife's Tale:

1. In what ways has Mary Gooch's life become smaller and smaller as she enters mid-life? How has she withdrawn from the world...and why?

2. Talk about her obsessive eating. What drives her to food... what is Mary "hungry" for?

3. Comment on this quotation: "The anger of Mary's secret floated down to the silty bottom until another storm stirred it up again. But like the food she hid from herself Mary always knew its precise location." What does this passage reveal about Mary?

4. In what way is Mary a prisoner of her own body? Talk about the daily humiliations she undergoes because of her size?

5. In real life how do people treat the morbidly obese? For instance, what is really being said when someone utters, "such a pretty face"? What condescending or dismissive statements are said or written about any eating disorder, obesity or anorexia?

6. The history of storytelling is replete with heroes who undertake challenging journeys for a specific goal. In what way might The Wife's Tale be considered a "hero's journey," an "adventure" story...or a "coming of age" story? Outwardly, Mary searches for her husband; inwardly, what is her search really about? What is the treasure at the end of the journey?

7. One reader observed that Mary is like an onion. What might she have meant?

8. Talk about her mishaps and the numerous people Mary meets when she arrives in California. How do these acts of kindness begin to heal her?

9. What about Jimmy? What kind of man is he...what kind of husband?

10. Ultimately, how is Mary changed—on the inside? What does she come to learn about herself and the world?

11. To what extent does this passage represent a change in Mary: "Yes, she still believed in miracles. What were they but random occurrences that caused wonder instead of random occurrences that brought grief?"

12. To what extent did you sympathsize with Mary Gooch? Or were you irritated by or impatient with her? If so, did you find yourself rooting for her by the end?

13. Someone referred to Mary as "everywoman"—a character who symbolizes the plight of the modern female. Do you agree? If so, in ways is she representative of many woman today?

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

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